WBU to play for fifth-straight league tourney crown at 5:30 Tuesday vs. SCU

SOURCE: wbuathletics.com


OKLAHOMA CITY – Wayland Baptist hit nine 3-pointers and 13-of-15 free throws, and Jenna Cooper scored nine of the Flying Queens’ 11 overtime points to secure a hard-fought 86-84 win over 17th-ranked Texas Wesleyan in the semifinals of the Oklahoma Ford Dealers Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament on Monday afternoon at Gaulke Activity Center.

With its ninth-straight win, Wayland (21-9), ranked the equivalent of 35th in the NAIA, will play for its fifth consecutive SAC Tournament title back on the campus of Mid-America Christian University at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against sixth-seeded Southwestern Christian (16-13), which defeated seventh-seeded Langston (17-13), 66-51. During the regular-season, WBU lost both games to SCU, 81-77 in Plainview in what was WBU’s only other overtime game this season and 67-48 in Bethany, Okla., on Jan. 28 in what was WBU’s last loss. In the quarterfinals, SCU upset second-seeded, 25th-ranked Science & Arts of Okahoma, 67-62.

Wayland’s semifinal win – which advanced WBU to the tourney title game for the seventh time in eight years – was a rematch of last year’s tournament championship game and was the rubber match between the Queens and Lady Rams (25-5). Wayland lost to TXWES by 13 in Fort Worth on Jan. 12 but beat the Lady Rams by 28 in Plainview in the regular-season finale.

On Monday, Wayland led by as many as 11 late in the third quarter, but the Lady Rams slowly cut into the lead throughout the fourth. TXWES then scored the final six points of regulation, holding the Queens scoreless for the final 2:49, to force overtime when WBU’s final two shots in the closing seconds were blocked in the lane.

Wayland trailed by two with just over a minute to play, but Cooper-Jackson, assisted by Ashlyn Shelley, converted a TXWES turnover into a layup. The Lady Rams missed a shot and Wayland’s Emily Sigala was fouled on the rebound. Sigala scored her only two points of the game on a pair of free throws that put the Queens up for good with 28 seconds to go.

Cooper-Jackson then intercepted a pass into the lane and was fouled, leading to two free throws for the SAC’s best foul shooter. She hit them both with 18 ticks left. TXWES missed a 3-pointer, although the Lady Rams converted one of their 38 offensive rebounds into a bucket with four seconds to go.

Wayland, which had made all 13 of its free throws up until then, missed two, but it didn’t matter as the Lady Rams’ beyond-half-court heave didn’t get close at the buzzer.

Cooper-Jackson finished with her second-straight and fifth 30-plus point game of the season as she was just one off her season-high of 34 on deadly 11-of-14 field shooting – including 3-of-5 from 3 – and 8-of-8 from the foul stripe with eight rebounds. She slid into the No. 6 spot on the Queens’ all-time scoring list with 1,858 points, two more than former teammate Kaylee Edgemon.

Kaitlyn Edgemon turned in an impressive stat line with 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five blocks, while Taylor Houston logged eight points and nine boards.

WBU pulled out the win despite 24 turnovers and allowing the 38 offensive rebounds (TXWES held a 58-41 edge on the boards). The Queens hit at least nine 3-pointers for the third straight game.

The Lady Rams – which launched 90 shots, compared to 65 for Wayland – were led by Zarria Carter with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Kertisa Amos added 17 and Na’Teiona Cole and Taryn Willis 11 each.

Shooting accuracy was the difference in the win as Wayland hit 49 percent (32-of-65) overall, including 35 percent (9-of-26) from 3-point range compared to TXWES’s 39 percent (35-of-90) overall and 29 percent (4-of-14) from distance, along with Wayland’s 87 percent (13-of-15) free throws versus just 44 percent (10-of-23) for the Lady Rams.

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