Nov. 24, 2008

Courtesy of Central Oklahoma

WEATHERFORD, Okla. - Defense turned the tide for Central Oklahoma against St. Gregory’s here Saturday evening on the second day of the Southwestern Oklahoma Athletic Association Classic and now the Bronchos are off to their best start in 11 years.

No. 7-ranked UCO used its full-court pressure to force four turnovers in a five-minute stretch midway through the first half to turn a four-point deficit into a nine-point lead and the Bronchos went on to an 86-56 thumping in improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1997-98.

“Our defense was the difference,” UCO coach Terry Evans said. “We struggled at the start, but we forced some turnovers that led to easy buckets for us and we did a nice job of shutting them down.”

The Cavaliers finished with 26 turnovers as UCO had 18 steals and the Bronchos also limited SGU to 31.5-percent (17-of-54) shooting from the field while holding a big 49-35 rebounding advantage.

David Thomas led a balanced attack with 13 points and five rebounds, while Eric Cazenave had 12 points, five assists and five steals. UCO also got 11 points apiece from Michael Sosanya and DeAngelo Garrett and a career-high 12 rebounds from Lance Harper.

Both teams struggled at the start with missed shots and turnovers before Chance Hardaker hit back-to-back 3-pointers to stake the Bronchos to a 6-0 lead four minutes into the contest.

The Cavaliers came back to take a 16-12 lead with 10:20 left in the half and that’s when defensive pressure ignited UCO’s game-turning run

Six different players scored for the Bronchos in the 13-0 run that started with a Harper layup at the 10:00 mark and ended with a Sosanya short turnaround jumper at 4:35 that made it 25-16.

Sosanya followed a SGU bucket with four consecutive points to push the lead to double digits at 29-18 and UCO was up 37-28 at intermission.

The Bronchos took any suspense out of it early in the second half with a 13-3 scoring spurt, increasing the lead to 50-31 with the run that was capped by consecutive 3-pointers from the corner by Hardaker and Tyler Phillips.

It became a 20-point lead at 59-38 on two Cazenave free throws with 12:19 left to play and UCO coasted in from there.

The Bronchos return to action Tuesday when they make their home debut against Midwestern State.  Game-time is 7 p.m. at Hamilton Field House.