Lady Aggies Split Two with Powerful MSU-Billings
- by Scott Puryear of OPSU Sports on 01/15/2007
Goodwell, Okla. - The YellowJackets of Montana State-Billings, sitting atop the standings in Heartland Conference women’s basketball, arrived in Goodwell last weekend looking to add to their nine game winning streak. After games on Friday and Saturday, MSU-B left Oklahoma Panhandle State very fortunate to have earned a victory in one of the two games with the Lady Aggies.
Both games were nail biters from start to finish – the Lady Aggies won on Friday, 85-82, while and MSU-B earned a hard fought 73-66 victory on Saturday.
Lady Aggies 85, MSU-Billings 82
In a wild game that had just about everything college basketball has to offer, the OPSU women’s team earned every inch of their 85-82 win over the YellowJackets of Montana State-Billings on Friday.
OPSU’s 5’9” Sarah Polson, certainly not the biggest player on the floor, played with just plain guts at both ends of the court. Just about anywhere one cared to look – there was Polson - going “bombs away” with three-point shots, fighting for rebounds, and playing tenacious defense. On the night, Polson scored 18 points, had six assists and six rebounds, and came up with three key steals.
Though MSU-B came out fast and held a 44-37 advantage at halftime, the entire Lady Aggie team was determined to get the win. Showing great teamwork and heart – plus 56% shooting - they fought their way through the entire second half and finally seized the lead 79-78, thanks to a three point rocket by Megan Hamilton with 1:54 remaining in the game.
The final moments of the game were as fast paced as one may ever see, but the resolve of the Lady Aggies paid off, and they left the court with the 85-82 victory.
Hamilton also played very well for OPSU, as the 5’5” junior shared team high honors with 18 points, had a game high eight assists, pulled down four rebounds and had a steal. Dependable senior Nina Kuleff had a dozen points and six rebounds.
A definite strong point for OPSU was the performances of Sedra Watkins and Yadira Ortega off the bench, and Lady Aggie coach Jerry Olson had a very big smile when he saw that his non-starters scored 28 points, compared to just nine for MSU-B. Watkins scored 15 and Ortega netted 13 on the night and each went 3-3 from the foul line down the stretch.
It was a very big win for the Lady Aggies, and Olson was deservedly pleased with a victory over a very good team. The victory was especially sweet because the Lady Aggies had not played on their home court since November 21.
MSU-Billings 73 Lady Aggies 66
It was another great women’s college basketball game on Saturday. Like the night before, MSU-B came out fast and took the lead at the half - this time, 39-23 - but the Lady Aggies staged a furious second half rally. A tip-in by OPSU’s fine center, Nina Kuleff, tied the game at 62 each with 3:14 to play, but MSU-B was able to hit some key free throws and came up with the 73-66 win.
Kuleff, a first team all-conference selection last year, had a “double-double” for the Lady Aggies with ten points and ten rebounds, and she also came up with a game high four steals. Sarah Polson had another fine scoring night with a game high 17 points, and Megan Hamilton scored 15.
Val Boothe also had a nice game for the Lady Aggies with seven points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. The 6’1” senior worked hard at both ends of the court.
For the second consecutive night, the defensive play of Hamilton drew the praise of OPSU coach Jerry Olson. For the two game set, the junior had the task of guarding MSU-B’s fine Alira Carpenter who entered the weekend as the leading scorer in the Heartland Conference with a 17.1 average. Thanks largely to the hard work of Hamilton, Carpenter was held to an average of 9.5 over the two games.
MSU-B now has an overall record of 12-4 and a conference record of 2-1.
Though the Lady Aggies are 3-13 on the season and 1-2 in Heartland Conference play, their recent efforts indicate that a good run can put them right back in the thick of things in the Heartland Conference, where they finished second last season.
On Monday night at 6:00 p.m. the Lady Aggies will play another Heartland Conference rival – Lincoln University. Fans unable to make it to the games in person can catch all the action live from KGYN via internet broadcast. Log on to www.opsu.edu and click on “Athletics” to find the link.