Taking the floor for the first time in more than three weeks, the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens on Thursday couldn’t shake off the rust in time to deny a spirited upset bid by Science & Arts of Oklahoma as the Drovers walked away with an 81-77 Sooner Athletic Conference victory in Hutcherson Center.
“We played like a team that hasn’t played in 22 days,” WBU coach Jason Cooper said. “Our timing was off on both ends of the floor. It’s a tough situation that we were put in with game cancellations and we have to learn to deal with that better.”
The Flying Queens (15-2, 7-1 SAC) led much of the way, by as many as eight points, 58-50, with 3½ minutes left in the third period. But the Drovers (10-4, 4-3) – ranked the equivalent of 31st in the NAIA – wouldn’t go away, putting together a 17-4 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. That helped the visitors from Chickasha take the lead for good with 7 minutes left in the game.
S&A seemed to have the win wrapped up, leading 76-67 with 2:42 to play, but the Flying Queens weren’t ready to throw in the towel. Thanks to a 10-2 spurt – starting with an and-one by Kaitlyn Edgemon and fast-break bucket by Kaylee Edgemon after a steal by Angel Hayden, and capped by four straight free throws by Jenna Cooper – WBU pulled to within 78-77 with 32 seconds to go.
Thanks to a technical foul against the Drovers, Wayland still had the ball but couldn’t connect on a jump shot. S&A’s Lainey Morrow rebounded, was fouled and hit back-to-back free throws to give her team a three-point lead with 16 ticks left.
The Flying Queens then missed a long 3-pointer, and after another foul on WBU, S&A’s Jordan Bloomfield put it out of reach by making another free throw to make it a two-possession game with seven seconds to play.
“Ultimately, it was the defensive end that hurt us the most,” Coach Cooper said. “We left them open time and again. We were late on rotations and just couldn’t get the stops when we needed them.
“Our effort was there as always, but it just wasn’t enough.”
The loss – which came after WBU’s last two games were logged as forfeit wins due to COVID-19 issues for the opponents – snapped a 33-game conference win streak for the Flying Queens, who last suffered a SAC defeat Nov. 23, 2019, at OCU, 70-46. Wayland’s last home loss in a conference game was almost four years ago, Jan. 11, 2018, also to Science & Arts, 77-61.
Wayland was playing at home for the first time since Nov. 27 when the Flying Queens were knocked off by No. 21 Concordia, Neb., 76-66. That ended a 43-game regular-season winning streak and a 50-game home winning streak. The last time WBU dropped back-to-back home games in the same season was January 2019 when the Queens fell on the road to S&A and Mid-America Christian. Incredibly, the program’s last back-to-back home losses came close to nine years ago, in February 2013.
Wayland was hurt by 17 turnovers, seven more than the Drovers who benefited from hitting half of their 16 3-pointers, five by Bloomfield (5-of-7) who came off the bench to lead five Drovers in double-figures with 18 points.
The Queens, who were 6-of-23 from long-range and 17-of-22 from the foul line, got 23 points and nine rebounds from Kaitlyn Edgemon, while Cooper and Kaylee Edgemon added 17 points each. Cooper, who hit 10-of-10 free throws, added eight boards and six assists.
“We have to grow, learn and get better,” Coach Cooper said. “We don’t have time to cry into our pillows. We’ve got a big game Saturday and we plan to bounce back quickly.”
The Queens return to the Hutch at 2 p.m. Saturday to host Texas Wesleyan (13-1, 7-1), which picked up a 2-0 forfeit victory Thursday over Oklahoma-Panhandle State. The Lady Rams have won six in a row.