LUBBOCK, Texas – The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma punched its ticket to both the Sooner Athletic Conference championship game and the national tournament with an 84-79 overtime win over Oklahoma Christian in the SAC semifinals Friday night.
The win, coupled with regular season champion Rogers State’s advancing to the finals, gives the second SAC automatic berth to the tournament runner-up if RSU wins Saturday in the finals.
It is the second year in a row USAO played its way to the NAIA Tournament with upsets in the SAC Tournament.
The Drovers broke a 64-64 tie with a long Adam Shoffit two-pointer with 2:16 to play. Oklahoma Christian got an offensive rebound and SAC Player of the Year Jason Taylor got to the free throw line to get the Eagles to within 66-65.
The Eagles got a defensive stop, but USAO responded in kind with 45 seconds left. OC fouled Jamaal McCoy, who hit both ends of the bonus free throw with 25.45 seconds to go for a 68-65 lead.
David Jackson had a three-pointer rattle in to tie the score with 13.27 seconds to play, setting up USAO with a chance at the last shot of regulation. Eli Flores scored a tough lay-up with 2.8 seconds left.
That was plenty of time to make a length-of-the-court pass to Taylor for an equally-tough lay-in to send the game to overtime, 70-70. The Drovers scored the first nine points of the overtime, but OC got the next six to make it a one-possession game, 79-76 with 59 seconds left.
Tim Nelson scored two free throws and Jeff Crocker responded with an OC three-pointer to cut USAO’s lead to 81-79 with 40 seconds to play in the overtime.
Allen Harris went to the free throw line for USAO and made one for an 82-79 lead. The Drovers got a defensive stop and the Eagles put Harris back at the line with 17.9 seconds left, where he delivered a pair for a five-point edge.
OC missed three three-point attempts on their final possession.
The Drovers were led by Nelson with 28, followed by Jamaal McCoy with 20, Shoffit with 14 and Harris with 10.
USAO (15-16) plays top-ranked Rogers State at 8 p.m. in the finals Saturday.