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Eastern wins on Homecoming Saturday

K'neshia Bush takes a shot.
K'neshia Bush led the Lady Mountaineers with a game-high 28 points against Oklahoma Wesleyan.
By Corey Stolzenbach, McAlester News-Capital


Eastern Oklahoma State College pulled off a wire-to-wire win in its first game in a week on Saturday.

The Lady Mountaineers (2-1) welcomed Oklahoma Wesleyan University for Homecoming, breaking through for a 91-62 triumph in their first game since a 93-56 loss Nov. 3 to Collin County Community College. Head coach Brandon Taylor said Eastern focused on a lot of defensive things, such as ball pressure drills, focusing on ball handling and trying to limit turnovers during the week.

A 3-pointer by McKenzie Patton got things started for Eastern, and then Patton was fouled and made all three free throws for a 6-0 lead at the 8:08 mark in the first quarter. The Lady Mountaineers would jump out to a 10-0 lead before the Lady Eagles called a timeout with 6:57 left to play in the opening quarter. Britnee Gabriel also tipped an Oklahoma Wesleyan pass that was intercepted by K'neshia Bush and she took it and scored, making it 12-0 Lady Mountaineers.

Oklahoma Wesleyan slowly crawled back into it. A 12-0 Eastern lead shrank to 12-8 and the Lady Mountaineers called a 30-second timeout with 5:38 left in the first quarter. The Lady Mountaineers then responded with a 5-0 run, and it was a 24-16 advantage after one quarter of play.

Eastern kept it going in the second quarter on a bucket by Bush. She was able to move around defenders on Saturday and attack inside. Bush posted 20 points in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers and going 2-for-2 at the free throw line on her way to finishing with a game-high 28 points.

"It's a good feeling to know that you have a big kid that can be so versatile in running literally the one through the five," Taylor said of Bush.

The Lady Eagles pushed it to within 10 with 2:43 remaining in the first half, but the Lady Mountaineers would not allow their lead to shrink again. Oklahoma Wesleyan's Shakiaya Strong was fouled four times between 2:04 and 50.8 seconds to go in the second quarter, but she was 3-for-8 at the charity stripe during that run, and Eastern took a 45-32 lead at the half.

"One thing that we try tell them is we want to stay in front of the ball and not chase, and we caught up all four possessions trying to chase instead of defending the proper way," Taylor said. "That's some adjustments we need to make as well."

Some Eastern players who began to score more buckets included Gabriel and Eneily Rodriguez. Oklahoma Wesleyan got the first bucket of the second half, but Gabriel responded for Eastern by going inside and then knocking down a shot from downtown for a 50-34 lead. Rodriguez would attack and penetrate inside. Both had seven points each in the third quarter, and it was 68-45 in favor of the Lady Mountaineers, who ended up scoring more points through three than Oklahoma Wesleyan had the entire game.

"We came out of the locker room, and some of the things I said to them were, 'Shoot the ball more,'" Taylor said.

Eastern did not contest every shot while it was on the defensive side of the ball Saturday. The Lady Mountaineers allowed seven 3-pointers, five to Ashleigh Wiley of Oklahoma Wesleyan. Taylor said it was unacceptable both to give up five shots from downtown to the same person, as well as allowing 60 points in a game, but the team is optimistic about the future.

"I will give the kids credit, they came out and they played hard and we seen a lot of great things today from this team," he said. "Moving forward, we've all got our heads up."

Eastern was scheduled to be back at it Monday against Arkansas Baptist College.

"Our saying is, 'We've got to defend the E,' so, we've got to defend the mountain top," Taylor said.