From Staff reports
JOPLIN, Mo. — The Northeastern State women’s basketball team continued to impress on the defensive end of the floor in a 69-45 win over Missouri Southern on Saturday at Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The RiverHawks (13-5, 8-2 MIAA) held the Lions (10-7, 4-5 MIAA) to their fewest points scored at home during a conference contest since Jan. 9, 2008 (54-44 loss to Pittsburg State).
“We are just playing solid, team defense right now. Everybody is involved and helping each other,” NSU coach Randy Gipson said. “We are aware of what the other team is trying to do. Our recent score lines are a result of concentration and teamwork.”
Northeastern State is allowing just 48.6 points per game over the last 10 contests, while opponents are shooting just 33.1 percent against the RiverHawks in that span. Not surprisingly, NSU is 9-1 in its last 10 outings.
The score was tight early in Saturday’s affair, but Northeastern State closed the first half on a 24-7 run to take a 32-16 halftime advantage. The RiverHawks were never challenged in the second half.
Six players had at least eight points for NSU, led by the senior guard duo of Tosha Tyler and Taylor Lewis with 14 each.
“We got good offensive movement after the first five minutes of the game,” Gipson said. “When you’re moving the ball like that, it presents open shots for different people.”
The final tally saw NSU knock down 12 of 25 (48 percent) from behind the 3-point line, with triples from five different members of the squad.
Senior forward Sarah Green, junior guard Taylor Collins and sophomore guard Fontana Tate all added nine points for NSU.
Nicole Hartzog was the lone member of the Lions to score in double figures, and she finished with 14 points. MSSU shot just 31 percent (17-for-55) from the field and just 28 percent (7-for-25) from distance.
NSU (men) 73, Mo. Southern 54
Another monster performance from Jermaine Bransford and one of the best defensive efforts of the season helped the Northeastern State men topple Missouri Southern State 73-54.
Bransford recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. The senior forward leads the MIAA in rebounding this season and is 11th in the nation in double-doubles.
“Jermaine is turning into a man. He's a load for everybody that plays him,” NSU coach Larry Gipson said. “He's about as good a rebounder as I've been around in a long time. His skill package in the post is getting better and better. I hope he just keeps improving.”
The RiverHawks (14-4, 7-3 MIAA) snapped a three-game losing skid to the Lions (9-8, 4-5 MIAA), while also picking up their first win over MSSU in Joplin since Dec. 7, 2004.
NSU held Missouri Southern State to a season-low 54 points, while getting double figures from four players. Adding to Bransford’s career night were junior guard Bryton Hobbs (12 points), junior forward Marcus Sheppard (12 points) and sophomore forward Landon DeMasters (10 points).
“When we get two or three guys other than Bryton and Jermaine getting double figures or close to it, we're really difficult to defend because you can't lay off us,” Gipson said. “I've felt all along that we have a team that can consistently have five guys on the floor that can make shots.”
MSSU’s only lead of the contest came on the first basket of the night. NSU went on a 10-0 run after the game was tied 5-5, and the visitors never trailed the rest of the way. The RiverHawks took a 31-21 lead into the locker room and the home team never got the deficit into single digits in the second half.
Jordan Talbert led the Lions with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Cameron Cornelius added 14 off the bench. Marquis Addison entered the game as the MIAA’s second-leading scorer at 20.6 points per game during league play, but he was held to his lowest total of the season of just nine points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Northeastern State will travel to Maryville, Mo., on Thursday for a two-game set with Northwest Missouri State. The women will tip off at 5:30 p.m.