CHICKASHA – Thursday night was a special one on the newly-named Brisco McPherson Basketball Court as McPherson himself celebrated his 300th career win as a head coach after his team went on to defeat the No. 9 Rogers State Hillcats.
“(When I got here) I didn’t know if I’d even win three games,” McPherson said after the game. “To be somewhere as long as I have and to win 300, it’s a great accomplishment.”
McPherson entered the game knowing it would be a battle. The Drovers, ranked 14th in the NAIA, had a real test in their conference — and 2013 — opener.
But it was a test the Drovers were able to pass.
The first half was back-and-forth as the Drovers and the Hillcats each gained the lead four separate times. The first-half lead peaked immediately before halftime, which the Drovers entered in the lead 39-33.
Determined to grab the victory, the Drovers held the lead through the entire second half and defeated the Hillcats 78-71.
As a team, USAO shot 45 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Senior Norris Rumph, who McPherson said followed up a bad practice this week with a couple extra hours in the gym, had a whooping 28 points in the game. He went 8-for-11 from the field as well as from the charity stripe and scored four three-pointers. Additionally, he had four assists and four rebounds.
Juniors Shavon Scott and Kennis White each had 10 points in the game. White had three steals while Scott had three assists.
The Drovers’ 36 rebounds were divided among the team members, with senior Brandon Cutler leading with seven. He had six points and two assists as well.
Helping the Drovers on Thursday was their ability to score 17 off second-chance points, most of which came in the first half.
The Drovers advance to 8-1 on the season and start off their Sooner Athletic Conference play 1-0.
Their season won’t be getting much easier. They travel to No. 22 Oklahoma City to play at 5 p.m. Saturday before returning home to take on John Brown — who is currently receiving votes in the Top 25 — at 8 p.m. Tuesday. And after that? No. 1, Oklahoma Baptist.
Tuesday night will be Black Out the Eagles night at the USAO Fieldhouse, and Drover fans are encouraged to wear black to the game.