By Mike Tupa
Oh, if only sports had a rewind button!
Erase a five-minute segment of Monday’s women’s basketball Top 25 mega-battle in Bartlesville, and Oklahoma Wesleyan University might have shaken the foundation of the national rankings.
But, do-overs only count in baking and kissing.
No. 16-ranked Sterling (Kan.) College rode the tornadic momentum of a 17-4 run at the opening of the third quarter to an 84-68 victory at the Mueller Sports Center.
The No. 25-ranked OKWU Lady Eagles — who had burst out of the gates to a team-record 7-0 start — dropped to 7-2 with their second-straight loss. They also fell to 3-2 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Sterling improved to 8-2 and 6-0.
OKWU struggled most the night to uncork its offensive rhythm. Brittan Garrett finished with 16 points — including four three-pointers — to lead OKWU, followed by Danae Goodwin with 13 and Amanda Hart with a hard-fought 10. Cierra Johnson sprang off the bench to add nine points and round out OKWU’s scoring leaders.
Kylad Comley canned 19 points for Sterling; teammate Alexis Theus thundered to a double-double (13 points, 12 boards).
Comley rang up a three-point play — the old-fashioned way — to power Sterling to a 55-37 lead at the 5:17 mark of the third quarter and cap the explosive 17-4 spurt.
OKWU then outscored Sterling, 31-29, the final 15:17 but could never find the traction for a legitimate foot-to-the-pedal rally.
Heading into halftime, OKWU had trailed by only five points, 38-33.
The game opened strong for OKWU when Goodwin made a spin move in the high post and hit a fallaway 15-footer, 2-0, during the game’s opening seconds.
Sterling answered with a couple of buckets, but Garrett drained her first three-pointer to push OKWU back on top, 5-4.
Moments later, Sterling missed on a trey and OKWU’s Essence Tolson pulled down the board. That led to another Goodwin bucket — a jumper launched over the top of the Sterling defense — and a 7-4 Lady Eagle lead.
But, Sterling had come out in a half-court to three-quarters-court zone defense and it seemed to take OKWU out of its offensive comfort zone.
The Lady Eagles continued to own the early however, extending the margin to four points, 10-6, on Johnson’s three-pointer, with about 6:00 left in the first quarter.
Thanks to flat-out hustle and pure defensive intensity — such as when Tolson flew down court to steal the ball on a Sterling fast break pass — OKWU remained in front for nearly the entire opening period.
But, in the final minute, Theus canned a deuce and ripped the cords on a buzzer beating three-pointer to lift Sterling to a 20-18 lead at the end of the quarter.
Sterling scored many of its second quarter points on its power game in the low post, either driving off the dribble or on passes to the weakside.
Sterling opened the quarter with a quick uprising to go up by seven, 27-20.
OKWU answered on Garrett’s fearless thrust to the low post. She made more moves than a snake with its tail on fire until she finally created a crack in the upper veranda of Sterling’s swarming interior defense and went up for the two-point deposit.
The teams basically swapped points the remainder of the second quarter which ended with Sterling ahead by five.
But the game quickly became lopsided once the third quarter got underway.
Sterling burst to a 12-0 run to go up, 50-33, in the opening 2:31.
OKWU finally snapped it on Melanie Williams’ layup.
But, the Lady Eagles just didn’t have enough logs to burn a hot enough offensive fire the rest of the way.
Next up, the Lady Eagles are set to travel Thursday to Southwestern (Kan.) College.
Sterling 84, OKWU 68
Mayda Stallbaumer 0-0 0-0 0, Kylah Comley 6-14 6-7 19, Brenna Eilert 3-7 2-2 8, Alexis Theus 3-8 5-6 13, Jessica Carrillo 5-8 1-1 11, Bethany Stucky 1-2 2-2 4, Bailey Bangert 5-8 3-4 16, Sydney Bangert 0-0 4-4 4, Emmiley Hendrixson 2-4 4-4 9. Totals 25-51 27-30 84
Amanda Hart 4-12 1-2 10, Danae Goodwin 6-12 1-3 13, Makayla Watkins 2-6 0-0 6, Nicole Ickes 3-8 1-2 7, Brittan Garrett 6-12 0-0 16, Ashley Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Essence Tolson 1-3 0-0 2, Caitlin Flackman 0-0 3-4 3, Desirea Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Melanie Williams 1-4 0-0 2, Cierra Johnson 3-7 0-0 9, River Jefferies 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-66 6-11 68