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Sanna’ St. Andre (#20) fights for the rebound against multiple Golden Eagles while Brooklyn McDavid (#1) provides backup. (Julia Kapros/RooNews)

Graduate forward Kiara Bradley’s late-game heroics ended Oral Roberts’ comeback on Saturday, cementing the Roos 69-63 victory.

The performance was one of Bradley’s best games this season. She led the way with 19 points (12 of her points came from the three-point line, going 4-8), nine rebounds and one assist. However, her biggest contribution came from one crucial steal. 

With only 10 seconds left to defend the 66-63 lead, coach Jacie Hoyt originally wanted her team to foul Oral Roberts so that they wouldn’t hit the game-tying three.

“The game plan coming out of the timeout was we were supposed to foul,” Hoyt said. “But our kids did not execute.”

Despite the missed opportunity, Bradley honed in on the Golden Eagles for the game-sealing steal. She darted down the court to the sounds of roars as she turned the steal into a layup. Even in the midst of the thrilling moment, Bradley said her mentality did not change. 

“When you start playing like that, everything goes blank,” Bradley said.

Her performance helped the Roos find a win, especially when the towering Golden Eagles’ defense limited UMKC senior forward Paige Bradford and senior guard Naomie Alnatas throughout the game. Bradford ended the game with 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists. 

Alnatas couldn’t replicate her recent string of 25+ point performances on Saturday. Her 10 points are the lowest she’s scored since January when the Roos played North Dakota (9 points).

Overall, the player most affected by the lanky Oral Roberts team was Roos graduate forward Brooklyn McDavid. 

McDavid was able to hit her post fadeaways (reminiscent of Lisa Leslie) and dominated the paint when open, but it took some time for her to take advantage of the Golden Eagles’ large stature. 

At one point during the third quarter, coach Hoyt pulled her star forward aside to have a short pep talk. 

“I just challenged her,” Hoyt said. “They’re going right at you and you need to take that personally.”

In the end, even with the tremendous amount of pressure, the Roos continue to find ways to win in close situations. 

After facing St. Thomas at home, Kansas City will continue their home-game stretch this Thursday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m.

The rise of St. Andre

While the starters made the most of their opportunities, there was one young player who played a crucial role in defeating Oral Roberts — sophomore guard Sanaa’ St. Andre. 

St. Andre was the X-Factor that the Roos desperately needed when they couldn’t get anything going inside the paint. In 20 minutes, she scored 10 points, nabbed four rebounds and found three of her teammates for assists. Her defense was equally as impressive, as she smothered the Golden Eagles with one steal and one block.

However, her most memorable play came when the Roos desperately needed a rebound to prevent an early comeback just before halftime. St. Andre positioned herself right underneath the basket, surrounded by four Golden Eagles. Even when she was outnumbered, the sophomore managed to swipe the ball away for the Roos. 

St. Ander’s impressive play didn’t go unnoticed by observers, including coach Hoyt. 

“Her athleticism is some of the best I’ve ever seen,” Hoyt said. “She’s just grown and taken opportunities with our roster change, and really just accepted her role and understands how she can help us.”

St. Andre said she was focused on her coach’s advice throughout the game.

 “Coach told me I had two things to do: take care of the ball and play defense,” St. Andre said.

Keep an eye on St. Andre’s play during the next few weeks. She may be the catalyst that drives this team down the stretch.

You can watch the full interviews from Saturday’s game, here

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