Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

March 5, 2014

NSU men knock off Washburn to keep season going

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Northeastern State men’s basketball team ended the season for Washburn with a 79-75 victory Tuesday night in Lee Arena in the opening round of the 2014 MIAA Championship.

The No. 9-seeded RiverHawks (15-12) used a balanced effort to eliminate the No. 8-seeded Ichabods (17-10), who saw their season come to an end. Northeastern State will now face top seed and No. 15-ranked Central Missouri in the quarterfinals at noon March 7 in Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

“I’m excited to extend my coaching career for at least one more game,” said NSU coach Larry Gipson, who has announced he will retire at the end of the season. “My golf career will start soon enough.”

Junior forward Landon DeMasters exploded for a career-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the winning performance. He connected on 4-of-7 three’s and hit all three free-throw opportunities.

“Landon hit some big shots,” Gipson said. “They gambled and left him open trying to locate people over to Bryton (Hobbs), and he was able to make them pay.”

Five RiverHawks scored in double figures, including senior guard Hobbs (15), senior forward Marcus Sheppard (13), junior guard Dalen Qualls (12), and junior forward Curtis Evans (10). Junior guard Michael Harmon also added eight points for NSU.

Northeastern State shot 52.2 percent (24-for-46) from the field, 47.4 percent (9-for-19) from behind the 3-point line and 78.6 percent (22-for-28) at the free-throw line. The Ichabods shot 47.5 percent (28-for-59) from the field, 26.9 percent (7-for-26) from distance and 75 percent (12-for-16) at the charity stripe.

Kyle Wiggins paced the home side with 24 points, while Alex North registered a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Korey Fisher added 11 points in the season-ending effort.

Northeastern State was the aggressor early and built a 29-17 lead in the first 10 minutes despite five early triples from WU. Washburn fought back and cut the NSU lead down to 43-38 before intermission.

The Ichabods inched closer in the opening portion of the second half and found themselves trailing just 57-54 with 11:40 remaining after free throws from Sheppard.

A layup from Chris Deanes at the 11:23 mark sparked an 11-0 run that saw the home team flip the script and lead 65-57 with 8:45 left.

A dunk from Evans stopped the bleeding for the visitors, and two 3-point baskets from DeMasters aided the RiverHawks comeback. His second trey tied the game at 69-69, and his jumper with 3:30 remaining put Northeastern State on top for good.

Washburn misfired on its last five field-goal attempts as NSU held on for the four-point tournament victory.

This marks the second-straight season NSU has had both the men and women advance to Kansas City. The NSU women defeated Northwest Missouri State 75-72 on March 3 in Maryville, Mo.

The other five programs with both teams advancing to the MIAA Championship Quarterfinals are Central Missouri, Missouri Southern State, Emporia State, Fort Hays State, and Central Oklahoma. Northeastern State is the only school with both teams winning on the road in the first round.

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