Tahlequah Daily Press

January 4, 2013

NSU thwarts the Fort

RiverHawk teams slow down Fort Hays State in MIAA sweep.

From Staff reports

— The Northeastern State women’s basketball team used arguably its best defensive performance of the season to post a 54-44 upset victory over No. 10 Fort Hays State Thursday night at Jack Dobbins Field House.

The RiverHawks (7-4, 2-1 MIAA) handed the Tigers (10-1, 2-1 MIAA) their first loss of the season, while holding the visitors to season lows in both points scored and shooting percentage (29 percent).

“I’m really proud of the effort of our kids. We were tuned in defensively and we played hard,” NSU coach Randy Gipson said. “Fort Hays State made it hard for us to run our offense, but I thought we hung in there and made just enough key shots.”

None were bigger than Taylor Lewis’ and Tosha Tyler’s with a little less than five minutes to play.

Northeastern State never trailed after the Tigers scored the opening basket, and the home team even held an 11-point lead at one point in the second half.

The Tigers were on an 8-0 run and down just three, but Lewis buried a shot from behind the arc at 5:16, and Tyler swished another trey on the next possession to push the lead back to nine. FHSU would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

The senior guard duo of Tyler and Lewis combined for 36 points and nine rebounds.

“We’ve put in a lot of hard work in our practices lately, and it’s really rewarding to see all that hard work pay off,” Tyler said. “Taylor and I were getting some open looks, and we were able to knock them down.”

Kate Lehman entered the game as the nation’s leading shot blocker and the second-leading scorer in the conference. NSU held her to a season-low seven points and two blocks. Katelyn Edwards led the visitors with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

NSU (men) 76, Fort Hays State 61

The theme of the night inside Jack Dobbins Field House was defense, and the men equaled the women’s feat of holding their opponent to a season-low point total.

The RiverHawks (10-1, 3-0 MIAA) trumped the Tigers (8-3, 2-1 MIAA) 76-61, as the league’s top scoring defense (NSU) bettered the league’s second-best scoring offense (FHSU).

“We did an excellent job all night defensively,” NSU coach Larry Gipson said. “Our kids really executed on that end of the floor. The key to the game is we were more persistent defensively then they were offensively.”

Northeastern State held Fort Hays State to just 39 percent shooting (26-for-66) and 22 percent from downtown (4-for-18). The poor shooting carried over to the free-throw line, as the visitors made just 5-of-11 (46 percent).

On the flip side, the RiverHawks shot 45 percent from the field (25-for-56), 47 percent from behind the arc (9-for-19) and 77 percent from the charity stripe (17-for-22). The hot shooting from three-point land included a stretch in the second half where NSU hit 6 of 7.

“We choked them off and didn’t let them score for a long stretch in the middle of the second half,” Gipson said. “We made some shots and were able to build a lead.”

Jermaine Bransford finished with 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for his fourth double-double in his last five games. Ethan Anderson led all scorers with a season-high 20 points, Bryton Hobbs dropped 17 and Landon DeMasters added 15.

“We came out a little rusty, but we were able to settle down after a few minutes and take the game over,” Hobbs said. “We’ve been working really hard on defense in practice lately, so I’m happy we were able to slow down such a good offense.”

Lance Russell scored 16 for the Tigers, and Craig Nicholson and Ben Congiusta both added 11. Dwayne Brunson hauled in 12 rebounds.