GOODWELL, Okla. – Faced with a must-win game in what was, in essence, a play-in game to the Sooner Athletic Conference post-season tournament, the Oklahoma Panhandle State University men’s basketball team crushed Central Christian College, 101-79, at Anchor D Arena. With the win the Aggies (5-6, 4-6 SAC) actually leap-frogged up to the No. 7-seed in the bracket and knocked out the Tigers (9-8, 3-7 SAC).
It will be Panhandle State’s second SAC tourney appearance in the past three seasons.
“This was a great team win and the next step for program...making the SAC tournament,” OPSU Head Coach Mark Laird said. “We were unselfish and played our style the way we want to all the time. 28 assists and 14 turnovers were both the best we've done against any SAC opponent this year. We have earned the right to play one more game. That's all you can hope for at this time of year.”
Freshman Jalen Thomas continued his amazing inaugural collegiate campaign, putting up a game-high 24 points. Thomas shot 10-for-16 from the field, overall.
Alfred Alkannama went 8-for-13 from the field on his way to a 16 point effort. He also had five assists and three steals.
Jamal Smith came of the Aggies’ bench to chip in 13 points, connecting on 6-of-11 shot attempts. Auston Chatman and Garrett Richardson rounded out the quintet of double-digit scorers for OPSU with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Chatman and Justin Pile led the Panhandle rebounders with six boards apiece. Richardson had five caroms to his credit off the glass.
TC Ellis booked nine points and DK Sumo IV tallied seven versus the Tigers. Four from Kaleb Stephens and three each from Jalen Williams and Pile rounded out the OPSU scorers.
Sumo had a game-leading eight assists, with Chatman dishing off for six helps. Alkannama and Ellis each had five assists.
The OPSU team rolled up 14 steals – three each from Alkannama and Chatman – and forced the Tigers into 24 turnovers, which Panhandle converted into 30 points. OPSU also owned the “paint,” where it accounted for 56 of its points.