TAHLEQUAH -- Behind a career night from Trey Sampson and 46 points from their bench, the RiverHawks completed a weekend sweep of intrastate rivals Central Oklahoma 96-89 on Sunday afternoon.
Sampson recorded this fifth double-double of the season on 31 points and 16 rebounds; both were career highs for the junior.
It wasn't an easy sweep for the RiverHawks, who trailed the Bronchos by 12 in the second half and led for only 11 minutes.
"We had some great impact from our bench today, different guys stepping up," said head coach Ja Havens. "I think it probably is better for us as a learning experience because we did get down and show that they could battle back.
"That has been as been an ongoing struggle all year. They didn't back down, they battled back and closed it out."
"Trey was a monster today and almost had a double-double in the first half...if he'll continue to work and have the right attitude, he's got a chance to be really special."
Christian Cook hit five of the team's 11 three-pointers to have 17 points off the bench. Payton Guiot scored knocked down four treys and added 12, his season-best. DeVonta Prince shot 6-for-7 and had 13 in only 12 minutes of action.
Both teams mirrored each other through the first half with both NSU and UCO leading as many as five points on each other. Sampson carried a blunt of the scoring for the RiverHawks and was already nearing a double-double at the intermission with 18 points and nine boards. The junior prevented a Bronchos' lead with a layup in the final 18 seconds of the half with the game locked up at a 39-39 tie.
Central pulled away after a flat start on the second half from NSU and used a 13-0 run to hold their largest lead of the afternoon (58-46) with 15:30 left. In the next 10 minutes, the RiverHawks kept eating at the UCO lead shooting 12-for-19 during that span. Cook had eight points in that run and tied the game at 76-76 with his fifth trey of the night.
It was a one-possession game for both teams until Guiot knocked down a three with 1:31 left to give the RiverHawks 88-84 lead and the momentum for the win.
Northeastern State has a day off before heading on their final road trip of the season. The RiverHawks will face Washburn Tuesday in Topeka and then head down the Kansas Turnpike to face Emporia State Wednesday. Both contests are makeup dates due to COVID-19 and weather-related issues.