From Staff reports
MARYVILLE, Mo. — Northwest Missouri State's Monique Stevens entered Thursday night's MIAA contest against Northeastern State averaging 6.7 points per game.
She more than tripled that total against the RiverHawks.
The junior guard from Wodonga, Victoria, Australia, made 7 of 12 field goals — 6 of 9 from 3-point range — to rack up 20 points in the Bearcats' 67-64 win at Bearcat Arena.
“They shot the ball really well. The big surprise was (Monique) Stevens," NSU coach Randy Gipson said. " She had a great shooting night, and I did not see that coming."
The loss snapped NSU's five-game winning streak and dropped the RiverHawks to 13-6 and 8-3 in league play. Northwest Missouri State improve to 11-7 and 5-5.
As a team, the Bearcats knocked down 23 of 46 (50 percent) for the game and 12 of 24 (50 percent) from distance. Ashleigh Nelson added 12 and Maggie Marnin dropped in 10 for the home side.
Senior guard Taylor Lewis led Northeastern State with 18 points, sophomore guard Chelsey Stricklen scored 12 off the bench, and senior forward Sarah Green added 11.
The visitors were 24-for-53 (45 percent) from the field and 10-for-19 (53 percent) from downtown.
NSU took a quick 10-4 advantage and kept its lead at 20-19 with 5:56 to play in the opening half. The Bearcats used a 15-3 run to close out the half and earn a 34-23 halftime lead.
“They were changing their defenses, and I think that bothered us a little bit. We turned the ball over uncharacteristically high in the first half," Gipson said. " The second half we did a little better job. It just happens sometime where a team is kind of tentative, not as aggressive as you would like to see."
Northwest Missouri State pushed its lead to as many as 18 at 53-35 with 13:43 to play, but the visitors used a 13-0 run to get within five points.
NSU fought all the way back to within two at 59-57 with five minutes to play, but the team turned the ball over on its next possession and missed a layup at 2:51 that would have tied the game.
NWMSU drained a triple on the following possession and the team held on for the three-point triumph.
NWMSU 73, NSU (men) 72
The Bearcats (14-5, 7-3 MIAA) came back after trailing by as many as 20 points in the opening half. Conner Crooker converted a game-winning three-point play with just 4.4 seconds remaining after junior guard Bryton Hobbs missed a pair of free throws on the other end of the floor.
“Being able to win in this league is a fragile thing, and our guys took too many things for granted tonight,” NSU coach Larry Gipson said. “Several of our guys started to think about themselves ahead of the team. We were never in sync all night. We built a big lead, but we did it carelessly and easily and we were getting ourselves in foul trouble as we were doing it.”
The RiverHawks (14-5, 7-4 MIAA) built a 42-22 lead at the 5:42 mark of the opening half on the strength of a 73-percent shooting performance from the field.
Northwest Missouri State found its rhythm and used a 15-4 run to cut the deficit to 46-37 at intermission.
The home team kept dwindling down the NSU lead over the majority of the second half, and Crooker made a pair of free throws at 6:35 to give his team its first lead of the game of 59-57.
Northeastern State went on an 8-0 run to take a 65-59 lead with 3:52 remaining, but two more free throws from Crooker and a freebie from Bryston Williams cut the deficit back to one possession.
The two teams exchanged free throws, and sophomore forward Landon DeMasters made a mid-range jumper from the baseline at 1:27 to give NSU a 69-64 edge.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Williams and a trey from Alex Sullivan put the home side down just two at 72-70 with 19 seconds left. Hobbs got fouled with 10 seconds left, but he missed both free throws, and Crooker ran down to the other end of the floor and converted yet another old-fashioned three-point play with 4.4 seconds left.
NSU could not get off a clean look at the buzzer and saw its four-game win streak snapped.
Crooker led all scorers with 24 points off the bench. He was 7-for-11 from the field and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. Grant Cozad added 19 and Williams scored 17 for the Bearcats.
DeMasters scored a season-high 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He was also 9-for-10 at the free-throw line. Senior forward Jermaine Bransford added 17 points for NSU.
Northeastern State shot 52 percent (24-for-46) from the field, 43 percent (6-for-14) from distance and 67 percent (18-for-27) at the line.
Northwest Missouri State shot 39 percent (21-for-54) from the field, 17 percent (2-for-12) beyond the arc and 91 percent (29-for-32) at the charity stripe.
The RiverHawks will end a three-game road stretch with a 3:30 p.m. matchup Feb. 2 against Missouri Western State.