Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Oakland women earned regular season title
Senior Nicole Piggott scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Oakland’s women’s basketball team past Centenary 73-53 in Mid-Continent Conference action at the O’rena on Monday, Feb. 26. The Golden Grizzlies won the regular season championship outright with the victory after clinching at least a share of the title and the top seed in next weekend’s Mid-Con Tournament with a win at UMKC last weekend.
OU finished conference play with a 12-2 record (17-11 overall) while Centenary posted a 1-13 mark in the league (5-24 overall). The first-seeded Golden Grizzlies and the number eight seed Ladies will square off against one another for the first time ever in the Mid-Con Tournament next Saturday at noon, the second straight contest between the two teams.
Oakland jumped out to an 11-6 lead after four minutes of play. Senior Joya accounted for four of Oakland’s points, while sophomore Jessica Pike and Piggott each scored field goals and sophomore Riikka Terava drained a three at 15:57 for the five-point margin. The Ladies’ offense came from a lay-up by Sara Judice, a free throw by Cierra Bush and a three from Bethany Joseph.
After a three from Bush drew Centenary within two, the Golden Grizzlies pulled away with a modest 9-0 run. Junior Charlese Greer ignited the run with a lay-up while Pike and freshman Melissa Jeltema also contributed field goals. Greer capped the run with a three-point play, converting the free throw after being fouled while driving to the hoop for a lay-up.
The Golden Grizzlies maintained the 11-point edge over the next six minutes as both teams tallied 11 points apiece. Piggott was responsible for four of OU’s points while Jeltema recorded three and senior Bonnie Baker and Pike each nailed field goals. Joseph, Monique Jefferson and Samantha Gillespie each hit from beyond the arc for the Ladies while Jelena Aleksic registered a field goal.
Centenary started to chip away at the Golden Grizzlies’ lead, scoring 11 of the next 15 points to draw within four. Aleksic got things rolling with a pair of free throws while Holli Wilkins drained a three. After two free throws by Greer, Bush uncorked another from three-point range. Piggott answered with a jumper, but Bush sank another three at 2:51 to draw within four 35-31.
The Golden Grizzlies tightened up the defense for the remainder of the first half, allowing just one field goal while the offense posted seven points to take a 42-34 lead into the break.
A pair of threes by Judice and a lay-up from Bush helped kick start the Ladies’ offense to open the second half, enabling Centenary to pull within four 46-42 in the first three minutes. But the momentum started to slip away as Oakland posted six points to Centenary’s two over the next three and a half minutes to regain the eight-point edge 52-44 with 13:22 left to play.
Oakland’s defense tightened up once again, forcing Centenary to turnover the ball and take low-percentage shots. The result was a 13-0 run for the Golden Grizzlies which put the game out of reach for CC. Piggott commenced the run with a pair of field goals and later added two free throws, while Terava scored a lay-up on the fast break and freshman Hanna Reising compiled five points on a three and a lay-up.
Jeltema, Piggott and Puryear scored the next six points to give the Golden Grizzlies a 24-point lead, their largest lead of the game, to bring the score to 71-47 with 3:45 remaining. Centenary would go on to score six of the last eight points for the 73-53 final. Dominique Booker registered the last basket of the game for OU, converting the fast break lay-up after Piggott stole the ball in the defensive end and sent a pass ahead to the sophomore.
Oakland out shot the Ladies from the floor 39 percent to 37 percent, but Centenary converted from a better rate from three-point range (58 percent to 40 percent) and from the free throw line (75 percent to 71 percent).
For more information on Oakland’s women’s basketball team, visit the OU Athletics Web site.