MARYVILLE, Mo. — Northeastern State has gone from front-runner to lagging behind the leader — in just three days.
On Saturday, NSU entered a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association contest against Missouri Southern as the league’s top team.
After a trip to Northwest Missouri State on Monday, the RiverHawks are no longer atop the conference’s standings.
Conner Crooker scored 20 points, and DeShaun Cooper added 12 points as the Bearcats dismantled Northeastern State, 85-65, in front of 923 in attendance at Bearcat Arena.
“We lost to a very good team tonight. I’m not disappointed so much in that we lost, but more in how we lost,” NSU coach Larry Gipson said. “(Northwest Missouri) ate us up with their physicality and size. We didn’t have an answer for that.”
There’s no denying that.
Northwest Missouri State (11-5, 6-1 MIAA) grabbed 40 rebounds in the game, and it was 20 better than NSU’s 20-rebound effort.
With the loss, the RiverHawks (10-4, 5-2 MIAA) moved out of at least a share of first for the first time this season.
NSU shot 44 percent (22-of-50) from the field, 41.7 percent (10-of-24) from downtown and 73.3 percent (11-of-15) at the free-throw line. NWMSU shot 52.8 percent (28-of-53) from the field, 47.8 percent (11-of-23) from distance and 64.3 percent (18-of-28) at the line.
Bryton Hobbs finished with 16 points and five assists for the RiverHawks, who will return home to take on Nebraska Kearney on Thursday. Adding double figures on the offensive end for the RiverHawks was Dalen Qualls (15) and Marcus Sheppard (10).
From the final 5:57 of the first half to the first 6:43 of the second, the Bearcats outscored the RiverHawks 40-14 and never looked back to earn the blowout victory.
NWMSU 57, NSU 51 (OT)
Take away the overtime games this season, and NSU would be above .500. However, the NSU women needed extra again on Monday and lost again, dropping a 57-51 game at Bearcat Arena.
Monique Stevens and Ashleigh Nelson paced Northwest Missouri State with 14 points apiece, and Annie Mathews totaled 10 points and 10 rebounds in the winning effort.
“We just couldn’t get it done. We lost in a similar way to Saturday where we just couldn’t get it done after taking a lead late,” NSU coach Randy Gipson said. “We didn’t complete any plays in overtime.”
The RiverHawks (6-8, 3-4 MIAA) lost back-to-back games for the first time since starting the season 0-4, while the Bearcats (5-9, 2-5 MIAA) picked up a much-needed conference victory.
NSU trailed for the majority of the second half, taking its first lead of the final 20 minutes at 6:47. However, in the final 6:04 of regulation and five minutes of overtime, the RiverHawks shot just 2-of-12 overall and 3-of-11 at the free-throw line, while committing four costly turnovers.
NSU freshman guard Jamie Jackson led all scorers with a career-high 16 points, and Fontana Tate, NSU’s leading scorer this season, came back from injury to add 10 points. Both players came off the bench, and NSU’s starters combined for just 21 points on 6-of-28 shooting overall and 0-of-11 from three-point range.
NWMSU 85, NSU (men) 65
NSU 24 41 - 65
NWMSU 33 52 - 85
NSU (10-4, 5-2 MIAA): Bryton Hobbs 16, Dalen Qualls 15, Marcus Sheppard 10, Littleton 8, Evans 8, Harmon 5, Cowan 2, Gilliam 1.
NW Missouri St. (11-5, 6-1 MIAA): Conner Crooker 20, Zach Schneider 19, DeShaun Cooper 12, Dillon Starzl 11, Grant Cozad 11, Funk 6, Harris 3, Williams 2, Schlake 1.
NWMSU 57, NSU (women) 51 OT
NSU 22 27 2 - 51
NWMSU 28 21 8 - 57
NSU (6-7, 3-3 MIAA): Jamie Jackson 16, Fontana Tate 10, Lewis 8, Sagely 6, Bellamy 4, Walker 4, Beathard 2, Fox 1.
NW MISSOURI STATE (4-9, 1-5 MIAA): Ashleigh Nelson 14, Monique Stevens 14, Annie Mathews 10, Scott 6, Easton 5, Mustain 4, Schechinger 4.