EDMOND — Northeastern State needed a spark. Tosha Tyler provided it.
Tyler came off the bench to score a season-high 22 points Wednesday night to help the ninth-ranked RiverHawks escape with a 68-64 win over Central Oklahoma at Hamilton Field House.
NSU, which fell to No. 3 in this week's South Central Regional rankings, improved to 23-3 on the year. Washburn, who took over the top spot in the region, edged Emporia 53-52 and Pitt State, the No. 2 team, lost at Fort Hays State, 72-61.
Central Oklahoma, playing its season finale on Senior Night, got 17 points from Savannah Hamilton and ends its injury-plagued campaign at 16-10.
Tyler entered the game after the Bronchos had built a sizeable lead thanks to eight NSU turnovers. She had a layup on both ends of a five minute run, and scored 10 of her 15 first half points, that saw the RiverHawks turn an eight-point deficit into an eight-point lead, 23-15.
UCO pulled even at 24-all with three minutes left, but NSU ended the half on a 12-5 spurt to lead, 36-29, at halftime.
The final half saw the RiverHawks push their lead to as many as 14, 62-48, with 7:06 to play. However, that was the final field goal of the night for NSU.
It was UCO’s only home loss.
Sarah Green posted her first double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Northeastern State will play a pivotal contest at No. 12 Pittsburg State on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., with the men’s game to follow.
Men: UCO 89, NSU 59
Finishing at 15-11, UCO forged a 38-9 lead over the first 14 minutes, but even when Marcus Nelson scored on a layup with 48 seconds to go to put the Bronchos ahead 87-57, UCO was still in full-court press mode drawing the ire of NSU interim head coach Jon Havens.
Brent Friday led all scorers with 26 points. Justin Johnson paced NSU (5-20) with 13, while Kevin Arnold had 11 and John Schneider 10. The RiverHawks shot just 33 percent on the night and 5-of-26 from behind the arc. UCO made 14 treys.