ECU women bring home Newman Classic title

Nov. 21—WICHITA, Kan. — The East Central University women's basketball team took on Oklahoma Christian University in the championship game of the Newman Classic, and despite trailing early, the Tigers overcame the Eagles in the end for a 59-53 victory on Saturday.

With the win, ECU improved to 3-0 on the season.

"I am really proud of our team for fighting this weekend," said ECU women's head coach Heather Hurt. "We found ourselves up and down and continued to find a way to win. Many players stepped up and contributed in big ways to help us win."

OC quickly got the scoring going, making the game's first jumper before sprinting out to an 11-3 lead over ECU. Mackenzie Crusoe, Kate Ogle, and Eriel West added points to the Tigers total to help close the gap, but the Eagles stayed out front 18-11 at the end of the first quarter.

The Eagles maintained their edge at the start of the second quarter, eventually building a 10-point lead at 25-15. But a layup by Natalie Payne put a stop to the scoring run from OC and ignited a 7-0 one for ECU as the Tigers kept the Eagles scoreless for over four minutes. OC squeezed in one more jumper and Chloe Malone added a free throw in the last minute to bring the score to 27-23 heading into halftime.

The third quarter was a battle as the Eagles managed to rebuild a 10-point lead with 3:30 on the clock. But just like all game, the Tigers remained undeterred, clawing their way back to close the deficit to 40-35 going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers came alive in the final frame, outscoring the Eagles 24-13 to help them pull away in the end. OC tied the game three times over the course of seven minutes, but ECU found their rhythm when it mattered most. A pivotal basket from Payne put the Tigers ahead for good, and ECU would walk away with the 59-53 win to clinch the tournament championships.

Mackenzie Crusoe and Natalie Payne led the offensive effort. Crusoe secured her first double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Payne put up 12 points shooting .500 from the field.

Chloe Malone was just one point short of a double-double performance, recording nine points and 10 rebounds in the game.

The ECU women's basketball team will return to Ada for another home non-conference match against Dallas Christian at 4 p.m. Wednesday inside the Kerr Activities Center.