The No. 10-ranked Northeastern State men’s basketball team defeated Southwestern College 92-57 Wednesday night at the NSU Event Center.
The RiverHawks (4-0) continued their hot start to the campaign with a third victory of at least 35 points through the first four games of the season. The contest counted as an exhibition for the Moundbuilders (5-1), who compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Senior guard Bryton Hobbs finished with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He was also 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and added six assists. He has scored at least 20 points in every game this year.
Junior forward Curtis Evans registered 10 points and 13 rebounds for his first double-double as a member of the RiverHawks. Junior guard Michael Harmon came off the bench to drop 15 points, and fellow junior guard Keon Littleton added 10 points and four assists.
“We did what we had to do tonight. I was very pleased with our defensive intensity in the second half," NSU coach Larry Gipson said. "We were rotating guys in and accidentally found an effective lineup with Marcus (Sheppard), Keon (Littleton), Curtis (Evans), Bryton (Hobbs), and Michael (Harmon). They really defended (Southwestern) well and were able to come down on offense and consistently get good shots. And then Amir Gilliam came in and gave us a lift defensively. He kind of caused separation with his full-court pressure.”
Cameron Clark led Southwestern with 18 points. Bryan Lipsey added 12 and William Tisdale had 10.
The Moundbuilders hung with NSU in the first half, even taking a 14-13 lead at the 9:26 mark. The RiverHawks used a 16-4 run to pull ahead by double digits, and they hit 11 of their last 13 shots in the first half to head into the locker room with a 39-27 edge.
“We didn’t start the game very sharp, and I think (Southwestern) came in here ready to play," Gipson said. "They’ve got a scrappy team. I think they are going to do well this year.”
Southwestern College stayed close in the early portion of the second half and found itself down just 50-41 after a Tisdale bucket at the 14:01 mark. That would be the closest the team would get, however, as a layup from senior forward Marcus Sheppard at 13:29 sparked an elongated 31-4 that lasted until after the final media timeout. The run was more than enough to squash any hopes of an upset from the visitors.
NSU shot 56 percent (32-for-57) from the field and 83 percent (20-for-24) at the free-throw line. Southwestern College connected on 36 percent (20-for-55) from the field and 75 percent (12-for-16) at the line. The RiverHawks also forced 14 turnovers, while committing just seven.
Northeastern State will hit the road for the first time this season in a 4 p.m. contest Nov. 23rd against Arkansas-Fort Smith.
NSU 92, Southwestern 57
Southwestern 27 30 57
Northeastern State 39 53 92
SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE (5-1)
Clark 18; Lipsey 12; Tisdale 10; Folston 9; Shirley 2; Schmidt 2; Tyler 2; Hudson 2; Nespor 0; Baird 0; Giddings 0. Totals 20-55 12-16 57.
NORTHEASTERN STATE (4-0)
Hobbs 24; Harmon 15; Littleton 10; Evans 10; Qualls 9; DeMasters 7; Gilliam 5; McDonald 5; Sheppard 4; Cowan 3; Simpson 0; Logan 0. Totals 32-57 20-24 92.