Tahlequah Daily Press

January 22, 2014

Tall task awaits NSU women

Sports Editor


Despite it’s .500 record, Northeastern State has some impressive victories this season. Tarleton State and Southeastern Oklahoma State ventured into the NSU Event Center and left with bruised egos.

Now add Fort Hays State to that list. The Tigers arrived in Tahlequah as the 23rd-ranked team in the country but left with a one-point loss and no longer a four-game winning streak.

So, the question was posed to NSU women’s coach Randy Gipson after the 49-48 triumph over Fort Hays State: was that the RiverHawks’ best win of the season?

“I guess,” said Gipson, whose team climbed back to .500 (8-8) while improving to 5-4 in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play.

“(Fort Hays State) has been on a roll, and I guess they’re in the top 25 this week, so the last game is the best win of the year so far. That’s kind of the way it is for our team.”

The RiverHawks were able to boast after knocking off their first top-25 opponent of the season. Against then-No. 8 Central Missouri on Dec. 21, the RiverHawks faltered late and fell 84-73 to the Jennies.

“We’re just learning how to win,” Gipson said, “and how to play these kinds of games.”

NSU escaped with a one-point victory over Fort Hays State when Kate Bellamy was fouled by Fort Hays State’s Kate Lehman on a shot attempt with 3.5 seconds to play. Bellamy sank both the game-tying and go-ahead free throws before a last-second 3-point attempt by Fort Hays State was off the mark.

The RiverHawks may very well need good fortune like that tonight when they host the nation’s second-ranked team, Emporia State, at 5:30. Or, NSU may very well want to repeat last year’s efforts when the RiverHawks swept Emporia State in two regular-season matchups.

However, that may be hard to replicate since the Hornets (17-0, 8-0) are rolling. A two-point win over Pittsburg State last week was the closest game Emporia State experienced since narrowly escaping with a four-point win at Northwest Missouri State on Dec. 7.

Leading the way for Emporia State is Laura Patrick at 15.1 points per game. Merissa Quick (11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds) and Kionna Kellog (10.2 points) are also scoring in double figures. Rheanna Egil, Amber Vandiver and Kelly Moten are also contributors on offense with at least eight points per game.

In the men’s game, Emporia State enters with a 12-6 overall record and a 5-3 mark in league play. The RiverHawks are 11-5 and 5-3, but NSU has lost three of its last four games.

The men’s game will tip at 7:30.