By BEN JOHNSON
Ecclesia coach T.K. Smith took over his sports jacket and flung it at his seat on the bench. And that was barely four minutes into the game.
That's the kind of night it was for Ecclesia, a program out of the National Christian College Athletic Association.
Northeastern State was nearly unstoppable in every facet of the game while whooping up on Ecclesia, 102-65, at the RiverHawks' brand-new event center.
"I thought it was a good performance," NSU coach Larry Gipson said. "I haven't been pleased with the preseason in many respects, but this week we went over to Arkansas, played well and saw some signs. And tonight I thought we did a good job."
Leading six Northeastern State players in double figures, Bryton Hobbs posted a game-high 20 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds. Hobbs — who scored the first-ever points in the new building on a jump shot from the left elbow at the 18:49 mark in the first half — finished five-of-seven from the field and eight-of-eight from the free-throw line.
In fact, NSU (1-0) put on a offensive clinic against the Royals.
The RiverHawks scorched the nets in the first half, shooting 76 percent (19 of 25) from the field and 11 of 14 (78.6 percent) from the foul line.
"I didn't know that; that's good," Hobbs said when told of his team's shooting prowess in the opening half. "That means everyone is coming in and getting some extra shots up. Hard work pays off."
Last season against Ecclesia, NSU posted a 90-45 victory. This victory came just as easy — if not easier.
The RiverHawks scored 18 of the first 26 points and held a double-digit lead with 13:09 left until halftime. From there, NSU never looked back.
Michael Harmon came off the bench to score 16 points for the RiverHawks. Keon Littleton added 15 points, Landon DeMasters and Curtis Evans both tallied 13 apiece, and Marcus Sheppard collected 10 points and eight rebounds.
Evans had a team-high nine rebounds for the RiverHawks, who out-rebounded Ecclesia 39-25.
NSU did hand the ball over 17 times, and Gipson did notice the sloppy ball-handling along the way.
"We were a little careless with the basketball at time," said Gipson, whose team posted 21 assists by night's end. "I think we paid too much attention to the score and got careless both offensively and defensively."
Rolands Narkis led Ecclesia with 13 points. Dominic Taylor and Jacob Berry both posted 10 points for the Royals, who shot 21 of 56 from the floor.
NSU will continue at home and host Hillsdale on Wednesday night.
NSU 102, Ecclesia 65
Ecclesia 23 42 -- 65
NSU 53 49 -- 102
Ecclesia: Rolands Narkis 13, Dominic Taylor 10, Jacob Berry 10, Brandon Brzozkiewicz 9, Foster 6, Burroughs 6, Pettis 4, Goodwin 4, Colbert 3.
NSU (1-0): Bryton Hobbs 20, Michael Harmon 16, Keon Littleton 15, Landon DeMasters 13, Curtis Evans 13, Marcus Sheppard 10, Qualls 7, Gilliam 3, Logan 2, Simpson 2, Cowan 1.