Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

January 17, 2014

Kearney conquest

NSU teams snap losing skids with pair of wins against Nebraska Kearney

The defense wasn’t as solid as NSU men’s basketball coach Larry Gipson would like it, but the RiverHawks were able to sneak past Nebraska-Kearney 90-85 Thursday night to earn a victory in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

All five starters for the home team finished in double figures, and they were led by a 27-point, 10-assist performance from Bryton Hobbs. The reigning MIAA Athlete of the Week posted a career high in assists and the fourth double-double of his career.

Other double-digit scorers included Dalen Qualls (18), Curtis Evans (12), Marcus Sheppard (12), and Keon Littleton (11).

“I’m happy to get a win. This is a tough league to get wins in,” Gipson said. “We protected our home court. We still have some defensive deficiencies that have not been corrected, and we need to do a better job of playing defense down the stretch. I thought we lost some assignments and got confused on some defensive rotations, and we simply need to do a better job.”

Despite the overall lack of defensive prowess, the RiverHawks (11-4, 6-2 MIAA) were able to slow down UNK’s top two scorers. Connor Beranek entered the game as the MIAA’s third-leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, but he was held to just 13 points. UNK’s second-leading scorer is Mike Dentlinger (13.8 points per contest), and he was held to his second-lowest total of the season of just six points.

Those that were able to reach double digits for the Lopers (5-9, 2-6 MIAA) were Davion Pearson (20), Ethan Brozek (18), Beranek, and Tyler Shields (10).

The score was tied 35-35 at halftime. NSU never trailed in the final 18:38 and led by as many as 11 points in the second half.

Northeastern State received a welcomed edition to the lineup as junior forward Landon DeMasters returned from an injury that had him sidelined since Dec. 7. He played just 11 minutes off the bench and only had one point and four rebounds, but his importance can’t be quantified on a stat sheet, Gipson said.

“Landon DeMasters adds stability to our lineup. Obviously he was rusty because he had not played in more than a month, but he understands the game extremely well and does a lot of things the average fan doesn’t notice,” Gipson said. “He was a step slow tonight and got into some foul trouble, but there is a lot of rust that we have to knock off and we’re happy to have him back.”

Another welcomed edition came in the form of crowd support, as the attendance soared to 1,085 with the return of the students to campus from the holiday break. The crowd was the second-largest at home this season.

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