photo: Claudia Lusk
Playing for the first time since rising to No. 3 in the NAIA, the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens used a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to pull away from Southwestern Christian and win their Sooner Athletic Conference opener Thursday evening in Hutcherson Center, 65-55.
The Flying Queens (7-0, 1-0 SAC) were up by just two, 49-47, with under five minutes left in the game. But Wayland scored the next 10 points – including a 3-pointer by Jessica Medcalf and a pair of buckets by Kaitlyn Edgemon – to move out to a double-digit lead. Angel Hayden put in five straight points for WBU to seal it.
“I give a lot of credit to Southwestern Christian for staying in the fight. They made a big run to end the third, which really hurt our momentum,” Wayland coach Jason Cooper said.
That run, with Wayland up nine, was an 8-0 push capped by a late 3-pointer that cut the Queens’ lead to 40-39 going into the fourth.
The game was tied at the half at 27, after an opening 20 minutes that saw a dozen lead changes. SCU (3-1, 0-1) never led by more than two, and WBU by no more than five.
“We were struggling a little early on the offensive end. We had some trouble getting on the same page. Thankfully, our defense was solid and we could rely on that side of the game to keep us in it,” Cooper said.
The Queens shot just 31 percent (4-of-13) during their 11-point second period, while the Eagles hit six 3s in the opening half.
“We missed a lot of good shots in the first half, so we knew as long as we kept working the offense, we would eventually start scoring some points,” Cooper said. “Good shooting is contagious in this game, but, unfortunately, so is poor shooting.
“Our plan in the second half was to pound the ball into Big Edge (Kaylee Edgemon) early, and we did that.”
Kaylee scored Wayland’s first six points in the second half to set the tone.
Later in the half, it was Kaitlyn Edgemon who came up big. Held to two points and slowed by foul trouble in the first half, the second-year freshman ended with team highs of 15 points and eight rebounds, along with four assists and three steals.
“Kaitlyn had a big second half for us and came down with some big rebounds and shots late,” Cooper said. “Kaitlyn’s second half was an all-around great effort. It’s tough to sit on the bench in foul trouble so much in the first half and stay engaged in the action from the bench. She showed a lot of mental toughness and maturity tonight. She really stepped up for us.”
So did Medcalf, who came off the bench for her season-high eight points, including two 3s.
“I was proud of Jessie and her play tonight. She scored eight points in 10 minutes of action. I’d say that’s pretty efficient,” Cooper said.
Jenna Cooper ended with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Kaylee Edgemon had a dozen points.
The Flying Queens outscored SCU at the free-throw line by nine, hitting 11-of-19 compared to 2-of-4 for the visitors.
Wayland is back on the floor Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest against another unbeaten, Mid-America Christian (8-0, 1-0), which defeated Oklahoma-Panhandle State on Thursday, 76-49. The Evangels are ranked the equivalent of 43rd in the NAIA.
Prior to the game, the Queens’ 1,700th program win last week will be celebrated with a banner presentation, then halftime will see the introduction of all former Flying Queens in attendance. A post-game reception also is planned.