MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 3, 2014

For NSU women, it’s on to KC

RiverHawks open MIAA women’s tourney with upset of NW Missouri State


Phoenix staff, wire reports

— MARYVILLE, Mo. –  Northeastern State lives for another day.

Led by junior guard Fontana Tate’s 18 points and seen rebounds, the RiverHawks beat Northwest Missouri State 47-42 inside Bearcat Arena in the first round of the MIAA women’s tournament.

The win for the No. 9-seeded RiverHawks (11-16) was the first on the road since Dec. 5 and ended the season for the No. 8 seed Bearcats (10-17). The win for NSU snapped a six-game losing streak and an eight-game road losing skid and sends it into a quarterfinal matchup against the top seed, No. 11 Central Missouri at noon Thursday in Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

Fellow guard Chelsey Beathard added 11 points for the visitors, and freshman forward Che’Ron Lewis chipped in eight points and a team-high eight boards.

 ”Tonight was just a result of being really focused. It’s speaks well of our kids,” NSU coach Randy Gipson said. “We have fought hard and just come up short so many times this season. We haven’t won in awhile, and our kids showed what this team and what this season means to them. We were really focused on the game plan, and they came out and executed.”

Northeastern State shot 35.3 percent (18-for-51) from the field, 39.1 percent (9-for-23) from downtown and 25 percent (2-for-8) at the free-throw line. The Bearcats shot 29.4 percent (15-for-51) overall, 31.6 percent (6-for-19) from behind the arc and 60 percent (6-for-10) at the line.

Ashleigh Nelson was the only member of the home team in double figures, and she led with 18 points. Ariel Easton added nine points and eight boards.

 The RiverHawks outrebounded NWMSU by a 42-34 margin, which marked the first time in nine games (Jan. 25 at Washburn) that they were able to win the rebound battle.

“We were able to outrebound (NWMSU) because we finished defensive execution with great block outs,” Gipson said. “Hopefully a win like this will help put it in our players’ minds that they can be successful in difficult situations and in important games.”

Northeastern State found its way to an early 17-16 advantage, and the visitors used a 9-0 run from there to take a comfortable 26-16 lead with 5:39 remaining in the opening half.

 Northwest Missouri State exploded for a 10-0 run in just three minutes to tie the score at 26-26, but a three from Beathard with 13 seconds left in the opening period put NSU on top at intermission.

The second half saw four ties in the first 11 minutes, but the Bearcats were never able to take a lead. NSU led 38-37 with 7:58 remaining, and the RiverHawks used a 7-0 run across the next three minutes to take an eight-point lead that NWMSU could not recover from.