Kaci Richardson collected hugs and high fives as she checked out of the game for the final time.
The senior capped off her final regular season game at Hamilton Field House as the leading scorer as the Central Oklahoma women’s basketball team defeated rival Northeastern State 86-68 Saturday afternoon.
UCO (12-6) won every quarter and led by as much as 81-51 at one point.
NSU (6-15) briefly led 5-4 in the first quarter but never led again.
Richardson finished with 20 points. She had 14 at halftime, tying her previous career high.
Richardson said she just wanted to have fun and was a bit surprised she played so well.
“Just looking at the smiles on my teammates’ faces definitely helped me get the energy to even get those shots up,” Richardson said. “It was fun just running the court and making a last impression.”
Coach Guy Hardaker said Richardson deserved to go out with this kind of game.
“I was really happy for her,” Hardaker said. “We play Rogers (State) tomorrow, and I’m going to call that senior night, too, and bring her some roses and try it again and see if that works. (It) definitely worked for her today.”
The two teams played a tight game early. With the game tied at 9, UCO went on a 15-2 run. NSU finished the first quarter on a 7-0 run, but the Bronchos retook control in the second quarter and never looked back.
Besides Richardson, Kelsey Johnson also stood out as the game’s second leading scorer with 18. She had career highs in assists, 6, and rebounds, 18.
With the game in hand, UCO played mostly backups in the fourth quarter. In all, 14 Bronchos played, all at least 3 minutes.
With Johnson currently second in the conference in both points and rebounds, Hardaker said he was tempted to leave her in so she could add to her totals but decided against it.
“We got four road games,” Hardaker said. “At this point, she’s got enough respect in the league. It’s not like she has to win that scoring title… If I leave her in and let her get 25, 26, and she gets hurt, and we’re up 30, then I look like an idiot.”
Johnson is the only senior other than Richardson on the team. She did not participate in the senior day festivities in anticipation of using the blanket extra year approved for all athletes by the NCAA. As for Richardson, she said she is still figuring out what is next for her once this season ends.
“I’m planning on doing my internship this summer,” Richardson said. “I plan on moving to Orlando, so that’s going to be new scenery, new people. We’ll see where life takes me. I’m just going to ride the wave and figure it out from there.”