PLAINVIEW, TX (KCBD) - They came out like gang busters, and 90 minutes later the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens had a second straight win over rival Oklahoma City University.
"Today went really well. The girls stepped up to the challenge," Wayland coach Alesha Ellis said after the sixth-ranked Flying Queens' 73-66 victory over the No. 4 Stars on Saturday afternoon at Hutcherson Center. "We knew it would be a tough game like it always is, but the girls executed our game plan the same as last time (in a 66-57 win at OCU Jan. 18).
Maci Merket's 22 points, 13 rebounds and six assists led the way as Wayland burst to a 14-point first-quarter lead and never looked back. Kendrick Clark and Nina Sato added 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Kelea Pool tacked on nine important points off the bench and Morgan Bennett chalked up nine points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.
"As a team we all came out and did our parts and did a nice job," Ellis said. "I'm really excited for the girls. It's always a good win (against OCU) because they're well-coached and have good players in every position, but so do we."
The win over the defending NAIA national champion leaves the Flying Queens (20-3, 13-2 SAC) atop the Sooner Athletic Conference standings after the two schools in front of Wayland – OCU (20-5, 13-3) and USAO (21-4, 13-3) – both lost Saturday. The Drovers fell in Arkansas to John Brown (15-9, 9-6), 70-60.
Wayland has both USAO (Feb. 17 in Chickasha) and John Brown (Feb. 24 at home) left among its five remaining regular-season games, but first is a Monday night date in Goodwell against Oklahoma-Panhandle State (13-10, 5-10), which on Saturday defeated last-place Central Christian, 80-55. Wayland downed OPSU in the first half of league play, 65-39.
The Flying Queens end the week with two more road games at Mid-America Christian and USAO.
Against OCU, Wayland broke open a 4-4 game by scoring 14 straight points, a run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Bennett and Clark. The Stars made just 3-of-17 field goals (18 percent) in the first period.
"It started on the defensive end. We knew we had to play good defense to win," Ellis said. "And the times we needed buckets they found a way to make shots. That's what gave us the separation."
OCU made a handful of runs at the Flying Queens, including twice pulling to within three points in the third period. Then Wayland, up 48-44 going into the fourth, began the final 10 minutes with 10 unanswered points, starting with an and-one three-point play by Jada Riley and a 3-pointer by Clark.
The lead grew to as many as 15 before the Stars made one last late push. A 3-pointer and bucket after two missed WBU free throws made it a six-point spread with 11 seconds left, and after a Flying Queens turnover OCU had a chance to make it a one-possession game. But the Stars missed a 3, and after hitting a free throw to cut it to five, Merket hit two free throws with two seconds left for the final 7-point victory.
Merket logged her fifth double-double of the season and third in six games.
"Kendrick has been playing really well, and Maci got her shots going. Plus Maci's rebounding is coming in handy for sure. That's what we have to have to win these games."
OCU was led by Daniela Galindo with 22 points and NaShyla Hammons with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Alexis Hill added eight points and 10 rebounds off the bench.