EDMOND -- Behind a team effort, the RiverHawks snapped an eight-game skid and handed rivals Central Oklahoma an 84-72 defeat on Saturday afternoon.
The win is the fourth consecutive over Central and third straight for the RiverHawks at Hamilton Field House, the longest streak for the team since the early 2000s.
Trey Locke led NSU with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and had nine rebounds.
"That was a hard-fought game, and we knew it would be, but I'm really proud of our guys putting together a 40-minute effort, sticking with it, and getting it done," said head coach Ja Havens.
"That was a long time coming, and I'm really happy for them right now, and the feeling that they have is pretty good, but the unfortunate thing is there is no time to dwell on this one because we are going to turn around and see them again at our place tomorrow."
Northeastern State's bench shined and outscored UCO by 27, the widest margin of the season for the RiverHawks, and had 32 total points. Rashad Perkins and Christian Cook both scored 13, with Payton Guiot having six.
Shooting-wise, NSU was 52.5-percent (32-of-61) from the field and second-best effort of the season. In the final 20 minutes, they shot 16-for-26
Northeastern State took advantage of a slow start by the Bronchos and led for most of the first half. Locke and the NSU bench carried the RiverHawks to a 43-37 advantage that was cut by three, with UCO launching a shot at the buzzer from in-between the circles.
The NSU bench outscored the Bronchos by 14 with 19 points, with Rashad Perkins having eight, Guiot landed a pair of treys, and Cook put up five. Locke paced all players with 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting.
Central continued to hang with the RiverHawks until the game's final ten minutes, where NSU caught fire shooting 10-for-11 during a three-minute stretch. Six different RiverHawk players contributed to the fun, with Brad Davis scoring six of eight points during that span. From there, NSU never looked back.
The Bronchos entered the contest winners of seven of their last nine and dropped to 10-8 (10-8 MIAA). Central had two players 21 points, which was a game-high.
The turnaround will be short for the RiverHawks and Bronchos; they will swap venues and play each other on Sunday (Feb. 21), inside the NSU Event Center. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m.; it will be the first time since 1999 that the programs have played each other on consecutive days.
UCO 86, NSU 68
EDMOND –Zaria Collins led the RiverHawks with 16 points, including 11 in the first stanza. She was joined in double figures by Cenia Hayes with 14 and Britney Ho added 12. After setting a program record just one game before with a plus-20 rebound margin NSU was outrebounded by 19.
Cenia Hayes scored the first points for the RiverHawks with a 3-pointer for the third straight game and Zaria Collins scored the next four but the Bronchos were firing from deep making four in the opening stanza. Although the RiverHawks made seven at the free throw line in the quarter, they shot just 30.8 percent from the floor. Collins had 11 points in the first quarter of action. UCO shot 56.3 percent.
"Our shots were tough and I think their length inside definitely bothered us," head coach Fala Bullock said. "I thought Zaria started off really great at attacking to [Kelsey Johnson] and sticking with things but as the game wore on we got a little fatigued."
In the second quarter, NSU Isabella Regalado and Kiarra Brooks combined for three makes from deep but UCO's defense continued to limit high percentage shots. The Bronchos continued to pressure and had three steals that they were able to convert on the other end. Following the Brooks make NSU was back within single digits, 40-31.
To open the second half down 43-31, following a defensive stop in the paint the RiverHawks allowed a 7-2 Broncho run. The RiverHawks found their groove shooting 53.3 percent in the quarter but allowed 64.3 percent. Britney Ho scored the final six points of the quarter.
"Our shot selection wasn't always the best if we could have cleaned up some of those drives," Bullock said. "I thought they responded well after halftime, we made a couple of runs at them but you can't trade baskets when you're trying to get back into the game."
It took Northeastern State to the 5:25 mark before scoring in the final quarter and Central Oklahoma scored 14 unanswered. It did not make a field goal until Ho's turnaround layup with 4:08 left. The RiverHawks then went on a 13-5 run thanks to back-to-back makes by Ho, a Shae Sanchez 3-pointer and two consecutive 3-point makes by Hayes.
The Bronchos were led by Kaci Richardson with 20 points and Kelsey Johnson had an 18-point, 18-rebound double-double. UCO had 21 fast break points thanks in part to nine steals, shot 48.5 percent from the field and made 10 from beyond the arc.
The RiverHawks close out the regular season at home hosting Rogers State Saturday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. They have a shot at making the MIAA Championship for the first time since the 2017-18 season with a win. It holds the tiebreaker with Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri.