Visiting coaches cringe when the thought of a road game in Tahlequah comes to mind. Dave Slifer now knows why.
Slifer's No. 8 Central Missouri women's basketball team was taken to the limit before escaping with an 84-73 win over Northeastern State at NSU's event center on Saturday afternoon.
"This is my first time I've ever been in Tahlequah, so I've heard all the horror stories and they're all true," Slifer said. "It's no fun to play here, but this is a beautiful, exceptional basketball building."
The Jennies (8-1, 3-0 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) won their fourth straight game by scoring the final 13 points of the contest. And it was all done with Central Missouri's leading scorer this season, Keuna Flax, on the bench.
That's where Revonnia Howard emerged.
Howard had four offensive rebounds in the final 5 minutes, 30 seconds to give the Jennies second chances at points.
"She didn't do anything early in the game, because she was getting double-teamed so much," Slifer said of Howard, who finished the game with eight points and 11 rebounds. "But she got three straight offensive rebounds [late in the game] to keep our possessions alive."
Northeastern State's tallest player is Carrington Fox at 5 feet, 11 inches. She and the rest of her RiverHawk teammates were powerless to contain Howard on the glass.
"They got offensive rebounds and score off of them," said NSU coach Randy Gipson, whose team was out-rebounded 34-36. "That's fatal when it's as tight of a game as it was."
It was certainly that. There were 12 lead changes and eight ties along the way.
The final tie was at 73 when Quinnecia Twine buried two free throws for Central Missouri. Then the Jennies took the lead for good on Howard's free throw with 4:00 left on the clock.
"I think we made some mistakes, execution-wise," said Gipson, whose clubs falls to 5-6 overall and 2-2 in league play. "Offensively, we had some bad turnovers on key possessions."
Flax led all scorers in the game with 22 points. She finished the game seven-of-10 from the field and seven-of-eight from the free-throw line.
But with Flax on the bench late because of foul trouble, BreAnna Lewis took over. The senior guard from Greenville, Miss., posted 19 points while making six of 14 field-goal attempts.
"Lewis made some tough shots," Gipson said. "She made some tough mid-range shots."
The Jennies' only other scorer in double figures was Twine with 13 points.
Four NSU players scored in double figures, led by Fontana Tate with 18 points. The junior guard from Muldrow was five-of-11 from the field and five-of-nine from beyond the 3-point arc.
Chelsey Beathard logged 13 points for the RiverHawks, while Fox added 11 points. Che'Ron Lewis came off the bench to provide 10 points for the RiverHawks, who made 24 of its 54 field-goal attempt.
NSU, though, was out-done at the foul line, where Central Missouri made 25 of its 32 foul shots. The RiverHawks were 16-of-19.
NSU will now be off until Jan. 6 when it travels to play at Northwest Missouri State.
"We'll learn from this and get better," Gipson said. "I'm excited as I look forward to the second semester."
Central Missouri 84, NSU 73
UCM 39 45 -- 84
NSU 38 35 -- 73
UCM (9-1, 3-0): Keuna Flax 22, BreAnna Lewis 19, Quinnecia Twine 13, Howard 8, Wattley 8, Winkelmann 6, Prairie Chief 6, Barry 2.
NSU (5-6, 2-2): Fontana Tate 18, Chelsey Beathard 13, Carrington Fox 11, Che'Ron Lewis 10, Kate Bellamy 8, Cowan 5, Walker 4, Jackson 2, Sagely 2.