Phoenix Staff Reports
TAHLEQUAH — Northeastern State needed it after a .500 start through six games and a current two-game losing streak — a winning foot in the door in its first MIAA conference encounter against Emporia State.
The Riverhawks got it, using a 52 percent (24-of-47) effort from the field to upset No. 21 Emporia State 63-51 at Jack Dobbins Field House on Wednesday night.
“It’s great to see our kids respond to our recent poor play,” said NSU coach Randy Gipson. “We executed the game plan. Our kids competed hard, and they executed some things real well on both offense and defense.”
Senior guard Taylor Lewis scored 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting to lead NSU, now 4-3 overall.
NSU was 8-of-21 (38 percent) from 3-point land.
Senior forward Sarah Green added 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two blocks, while junior forward Carrington Fox contributed a career-high 13 points and seven rebounds. Green was 6-for-6 from the field and Fox was 6 of 9.
“This was obviously the best game we’ve played all season on both ends,” Gipson said. “We won the rebounding battle, as well, and that is a very telling statistic for the kind of effort we gave tonight.”
Northeastern State outrebounded Emporia State 33-29, and NSU also had 19 assists to just nine from ESU.
The Lady Hornets (3-2, 0-1 MIAA) were led in scoring by Laura Patrick, who had 15. Rachel Hanf added 12 for the visitors. Emporia State shot 31 percent from the field (15-49) and 35 percent from behind the arc (8-23).
“We’ve been struggling to find that chemistry and rhythm in our play, and we needed this game. To be able to get it in the first conference game is big for us. “
Northeastern State will next travel to Jefferson City, Mo., for a 1:07 p.m. clash Saturday with Lincoln. Both the women’s and men’s games will be televised by the MIAA Network.
Men: NSU 63, ESU 56
The RiverHawks (6-1, 1-0) jumped on top early and never looked back to earn the win over the Hornets (4-3, 0-1). Senior forward Jermaine Bransford recorded his first-career double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. He also added three steals in 37 minutes to pace the RiverHawks.
Junior guard Bryton Hobbs contributed 18 points and six assists in 39 minutes.
Northeastern State shot 39 percent from the field (18-46) and 4 of 10 from downtown. The team continues its torrent free-throw shooting, sinking 23 of 26 (89 percent) from the charity stripe.
Chris Sights had five 3-pointers for ESU and finished with 25 points. Kaleb Wright came into the contest averaging 19.2 points per game, and NSU held the Hornets leading scorer to zero points.
NSU led by as many as 16 points but let the lead dwindle to five in the final minute.
“I didn’t think we handled the pressure very well down the stretch,” said NSU coach Larry Gipson. “We had too many critical turnovers. But it’s a win, and as of today, we’re in first place in the MIAA.”
NSU plays at Lincoln at 3:07 p.m. Saturday.