By Univ. of Central Okla. Sports Information
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - This is the time of year when most basketball coaches know they must rely on the seniors.
For University of Central Oklahoma head coach Guy Hardaker, it’s a singular phrase.
He’s only got one senior, but it’s rather clear he wouldn’t trade Ashley Beckley for anyone.
And that’s not just in the conference, but probably in the nation as well.
UCO’s leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, Beckley was recently named the LSC North Division Offensive Player of the Year – an honor that Hardaker said couldn’t be more deserving.
“It’s rare to have your best player be your hardest worker. But Ashley is that for us,” Hardaker said following UCO’s 76-52 win over Angelo State in Wednesday’s LSC Championship quarterfinal round in Bartlesville, Okla. “What she does, down the stretch here, she has just refused to let us lose. And she’s had some tough games where she struggled offensively and somehow we squeaked out a win. She’s our glue, our leader and she’s their role model. She sets the tempo of the program entirely.”
Against ASU on Wednesday afternoon, about 16 hours after claiming the prestigious LSC honor, Beckley went out and posted a double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
In fact, UCO had two other players with more points, but as Hardaker said, Beckley has been the heart and soul for his team all season long.
But Beckley claims there is plenty of hard work behind her recent success.
“I’ve spent a lot of hours in the gym, constantly working,” said Beckley, a native of Turpin, Okla. “I’ve been blessed to have parents who have paid for me to get a personal trainer that worked on my agility, my footwork, my upper body strength. I’ve spent hours in the gym working on my weaknesses, which is my shooting. It’s paid off and it’s really exciting for things to start going your way. But we’re not done yet.”
The unfinished business she refers to is the LSC Championship, something that has escaped Beckley and her UCO teammates in the four years of this tournament.
And while Beckley more than cherishes the individual honors, she would gladly trade them all for the ultimate team goal.
“I’m a firm believer that hard work pays off, and it does. But to be honest, the award is cool,” Beckley said. “But I would much, much, much rather have a piece of that net. That’s worth so much more. The awards are over with and done, but I’m not done and my team isn’t done.”
Beckley and her Bronchos continue the journey for their first LSC Championship since 1992 when they face Tarleton State Friday night in the semifinal round at Bruin Fieldhouse at 6 p.m.