NORMAN — Norman High had its chances to win. In fact, the Tigers came just minutes away from upsetting third-ranked Edmond Memorial on Friday night.
But the Tigers were their own worst enemy in the game’s final minutes, and that allowed the Bulldogs to pull away in a 37-33 victory.
NHS fought back from a 12-4 first-quarter deficit to turn what could have been a blowout in a tightly-contested game all the way through. After giving up six offensive boards in the first quarter, the Tigers improved their blockouts and cut the deficit to four points at halftime, one point at the end of the third quarter, and they took their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter.
But after a Taylor Ely three put NHS on top 29-28 with 5:30 left in the game, things began to go awry for the Tigers. They turned it over on five of their next seven possessions and costs themselves precious scoring opportunities at a time when Memorial was having its own troubles finding the bucket.
Worse for the Tigers is that when they did get shots up, they wouldn’t fall. In all, NHS went 10 possessions and four and half minutes without a point. When Ely finally broke the draught with a pair of free throws with a minute left, Memorial was up 33-31.
With time running out NHS was forced to foul, and Memorial was able to hit enough free throws in the final minute to close out the game.
“We played hard; I can’t fault our effort,” coach Nichole Copeland said. “This is the first game all year where our turnovers have really hurt us. Every time we would take the lead or scratch and crawl back, we would have an unforced turnover.”
Ely led NHS with 17 points and six rebounds. Bethany Cox, whom Copeland described as the Tigers’ most consistent offensive player, had a quiet night, finishing with just six points and three boards. Memorial sank into a 2-3 zone and packed the lane, making it hard for Cox to find any room to operate.
Roy led Memorial with 20 points and 12 rebounds and hit four of six free throws in the last two minutes.
It was a difficult loss for the Tigers, but it was also one Copeland said the team can draw on heading into next week’s Crosstown Clash.
“There were plenty of opportunities tonight for us to just roll over and let them take over, but we didn’t do that tonight,” she said. “Defensively, we still had some breakdowns but when we did what we worked on in practice we did it well. We can build on this going into next week.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com