STEPHENVILLE — Lone Star Conference champ Central Oklahoma (26-5) improved its school-record win total and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Championship with a 65-64 defeat of Fort Hays State (19-11) in the South Central Region Tournament quarterfinals at Wisdom Gym.
The Bronchos led by as many as nine at 57-48 with under five minutes remaining, but late 3-point baskets by Terry Jeffries and Tyrone Evans, along with a buzzer-beating triple by Greg Schmidt kept it close down to the wire.
Central Oklahoma was 28-37 (75.7-percent) at the free throw line, including 4-4 in the final 12 seconds. Michael Sosanya, who led the Bronchos with 15 points, hit the first two with 11.89 ticks on the clock. Eric Cazenave added another pair from the stripe with 4.58 seconds left to hammer the final nails into the Tigers' coffin.
UCO, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, out-rebounded the No. 6 Tigers 36-31, and attempted 37 free throws to FHSU's 17.
Evans finished with a game-high 22 points to lead Fort Hays, while Jeffries also scored in double figures with 11.
LSC North Player of the Year and LSC Tournament MVP Sam Belt scored 14, with 12 coming in the first half, for UCO. Also joining Sosanya in double figures for the Bronchos was Lance Harper with 11.
UCO, which has won17 of its last 18 contests, meets the winner of the 2:30 p.m. quarterfinal between No. 2 seed Northwest Missouri State (23-7) and St. Edward's (23-6). The semifinal battle will be played at 5 p.m. Sunday.