By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
It took a little longer than what Northeastern State fans have grown accustomed to during the Randy Gipson era, but the first check mark in the win column is finally here for the women’s basketball team.
The RiverHawks (1-4) picked up a 62-51 triumph over former Lone Star Conference rival Tarleton State (3-1) Tuesday night inside the new event center. NSU handed the TexAnns their first loss of the young campaign and snapped a four-game losing skid in the process. The 0-4 record was the worst start to a season since 1998-99, which was the year prior to Gipson taking over the program.
“I felt like we were ready to win. Our performance Saturday (in a double overtime loss to Drury) was encouraging,” Gipson said. “Our kids seemed focused and hungry. I thought we played a real solid game on both ends of the floor.”
On one end of hardwood featured a RiverHawk squad converting 48.9 percent (23-for-47) of their shots from the field, while the other end saw the visitors shoot just 32.1 percent (17-for-53) overall and a miniscule 5.6 percent from downtown (1-for-18).
“We’ve had all of our people (healthy and practicing) for the last several days now, and we are finally able to put some things together,” Gipson said. “We’ve had a hectic schedule up to this point, and now we have a week off to be able to get some good repetitions in practice. We need to make those count.”
Leading the way for NSU was junior guard Fontana Tate. The floor general finished with 16 points and a career-high five steals. Tate was the only RiverHawk in double figures, but all of NSU’s starters had at least eight points. Freshman forward Che’Ron Lewis finished with nine points, nine rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Northeastern State used a 13-2 run midway through the first half to build an 11-point advantage, and the home team maintained a 31-22 lead at intermission.
Tarleton State got within seven at the 16:55 mark, but a jumper from junior guard Chelsey Beathard at 16:38 sparked a 16-2 run over the next nine minutes that all but wrapped up proceedings. The TexAnns cut the lead down to 11 by the time the final horn blew, but the result was elementary after the big second-half run.
TSU was led in scoring by Kiara Wright, who finished with 17 points. She was the only visitor in double figures.
NSU will stay at home for a bout with Arkansas-Fort Smith at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.