MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

December 22, 2013

Win by the minimum: RiverHawks hold on to down UCM by one

TAHLEQUAH – An all-out war ensued in the Northeastern State University Event Center on Saturday.

In a game where neither team had more than a four-point lead for 39 minutes, the winner would be determined by which team would perform the best in the final minute. Northeastern State would be that team as they defeated the Central Missouri Mules, 72-71.

The game saw 26 lead changes and 15 ties.

“I told our guys that I think Central is the most talented basketball team in the league. They have explosive athletes, a big, strong post presence,” said Riverhawks coach Larry Gipson, his team now 9-2 and 4-0 in the MIAA. “For us to get a win over these guys is big for our program. They are one of the most premier team in the league.”

NSU guard Michael Harmon’s six-point spurt, with his four-point play and two free throws after being fouled by the Mules leading scorer, Dillon Deck, and Bryton Hobbs’ two free throws after that, seemed to give the ‘Hawks all the momentum as they went up by six, 71-65, with 26 seconds remaining, making it the largest lead in the game.

The game was far from sealed as Central Missouri’s Daylen Robinson cut the deficit to three with a 3-pointer. Hobbs would respond with a free throw, topping off his 11 total points, to make it a four-point game with 14 seconds remaining. Robinson, who finished the day with 13 points, nailed another 3 to make the score 72-71 with 7.3 seconds left.

Hobbs would take an inbound pass in hopes to run down the clock or to be sent to the free-throw line, but he lost his balance on a questionable call that sent him out-of-bounds, giving the ball to the Mules (10-2, 2-1) with five seconds left.

Charles Hammork would miss a fade-away shot at the buzzer to give the RiverHawks the win.

His team’s competitive nature was no surprise to Gipson.

“I’d like to see that maturity that I saw in the last couple minutes transfer into other phases of what we do,” said Gipson. “But they were sharp and they didn’t panic in the last three seconds when (UCM) got the basketball back.”

Northeastern State had five players score in double digits. Curtis Evans led with 17 and Keon Littleton finished with 16 while Marcus Sheppard had 13.

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