Thomas Leads Lady Eagles to Weekend Split

By Tyler Moss

Southwestern Christian University’s women’s basketball team bounced back from a tough loss on Friday night to garner a weekend split behind the stellar play of senior, Clara Thomas.

On Friday, Thomas, a 5-8 guard from Oklahoma City, paced the Lady Eagles in a tough loss to Oklahoma Wesleyan inside SCU’s Pickens Springer Gymnasium. SCU found itself overmatched by the 17th-ranked Lady Eagles of OKWU and struggled to get anything going offensively. OKWU got scoring from every player on its roster, including a 15-point effort from sophomore guard Shelby Graham to lead the way in a 40.3 percent shooting effort.

For SCU, it was Thomas and sophomore guard Kim Hayes leading the way as each player scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds. LaKaisha Jones, a senior from Houston, Texas, overcame a rough shooting night to fill up the stat sheet with four points, five assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block.

The loss dropped SCU to 10-16 overall this season and 4-8 in conference play. OKWU improved to 19-4 and 11-1 in the MCAC.

SCU had no time to dwell on the loss, however, as it hit the road early Saturday morning towards Conway, Ark., for a conference showdown against Central Baptist College. While both teams have struggled this season, SCU held a single-game lead over CBC in the conference standings and knew a win would put some distance between them and the Lady Mustangs as both teams entered the home stretch.

The game was tightly contested from the opening tip, with neither team able to gain much of an advantage on the scoreboard. Central Baptist got tremendous play from a trio of scorers all night as Alyssa Drake led the Lady Mustangs with 23 points, and Abbi Stearns and Shelby WInkle pitched in 13 and 11, respectively.

But SCU countered with an outstanding trio of their own as Thomas and Jones each put up 20 points, and junior guard Vanessa Bledsoe piled up 19 points of her own, including a 2-for-4 effort from beyond the arc.

After leading 30-27 at halftime, SCU did its part to hold off CBC in the second half, but it wasn’t without some tense moments. After extending their lead to 11 points on a jumper by junior guard Bailey Wilkerson with 9:11 left in the game, CBC mounted a furious comeback that was capped by a three-point play from Stearns that tied the game at 59 with 3:04 remaining. But Jones quickly countered with a three-pointer of her own and the Lady Eagles never looked back as they grinded out a 67-65 win.

The win helped SCU to improve to 11-16 overall, including a 5-8 mark in conference play, while CBC dropped to 3-10 in the MCAC and 11-13 overall.

Up next, SCU will head to Missouri for its last true road game of the year as they face off against Central Christian College before returning home to wrap up the regular season with homes games against College of the Ozarks and Haskell Indians Nation University.