Eagles win first conference title with epic comeback

In a blink of an eye the Eagles were down 11-0 in their game against Lubbock Christian. Then they started the long road back.

The men’s basketball team eventually clinched its first ever Sooner Athletic Conference regular season title with a thrilling 84-78 win in double overtime.

The Eagles celebrated the win by thanking the fans and cutting down the net in Bill George Arena. The 13-1 Eagles’ conference title guarantees the No. 4 Eagles a No. 1 seed in the SAC Tournament and a berth in the NAIA National Tournament. The last win to clinch the title may have been the most difficult, with the Eagles down double digits for much of the game.

After falling behind 20-6 to the Chaps nine minutes into the game, the Eagles clamped down defensively and slowed the Chaps momentum. The Eagles still struggled offensively though, shooting 31.8 percent from the field in the first half and eventually letting the deficit increase to 30-13 with 3:20 left in the first half. Senior EJ McWoods then had five straight points off turnovers to send the Eagles into halftime with a 12-point deficit.

In the second half, the Eagles chipped away with help from a defense that held the Chaps to 36 percent shooting and a 12-point second half from freshman D’Shon Taylor.

The game got testy with seven minutes left when, after a foul on the floor, Jaron Vierra grabbed sophomore Max Hopfgartner violently and Hopfgartner pushed back. Both players got technical fouls and Hopfgartner was ejected.

Down by as much as nine with four minutes left, the Eagles shut down Lubbock Christian’s offense, not allowing a field goal for the rest of regulation. McWoods and Taylor combined for 10 points in the final four minutes and hit clutch free throws to pull the Eagles even with 34 seconds left. The Chaps had a chance to win it but AJ Luckey’s shot at the buzzer rattled out.

The defensive tone continued in the first overtime, with both teams only scoring seven points. The Golden Eagles had a chance to win it as time expired but missed a couple of last second attempts. It ended up not mattering, as the Eagles dominated the second overtime, taking a 69-68 lead with 3:19 left off a senior Coleson Rakestraw three. The Eagles would never look back, outscoring LCU 22-16 in the final frame.