Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

December 20, 2013

RiverHawks out-soar Griffons

The men’s side of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association is as close from top to bottom as any conference in the country.

Just take a look at the results from Thursday’s action: Washburn defeated Lincoln 70-65 and Central Missouri topped Central Oklahoma 72-70. Oh, and let’s not forget Northeastern State’s 73-70 triumph over Missouri Western State inside the NSU Event Center.

“This was a typical MIAA game,” NSU coach Larry Gipson said. “It was down to the wire, which is usually how games in this league go.”

Thursday’s results backed up that statement, and Gipson knows any win is a welcome one.

“I’m exceedingly happy that we won tonight. We played 15 minutes without (senior point guard) Bryton Hobbs, and I thought the guys that were in the game at that point and time did a tremendous job,” Gipson said. “This was a big win for us coming back the way we did. We had a long layoff after our last game. We were in massive foul trouble for a time, but we just kept hanging in there and battling.”

The RiverHawks now have three league wins and have yet to suffer a defeat.

The one against the Griffons, however, was in doubt late.

Missouri Western shot lights out and held a seven-point lead at the final media timeout. NSU weathered the storm and was able to regain the lead at 66-65 with 1:40 to play after venturing on an 8-0 run.

The Griffons led for one final time following a layup from Ryan Devers with 1:18 to play, but a three-point basket by Marcus Sheppard with 51 seconds remaining and four late free throws from Hobbs and Curtis Evans were all Northeastern State needed to find a way to win.

“Missouri Western State is very much improved since last year. (MWSU coach) Brett Weiberg is an Oklahoma guy, and he’s doing a great job with their team,” Gipson said. “We haven’t seen perimeter shooting and scoring like that all year. They were far better tonight than I’ve seen on film.”

The Griffons made a blistering 12 three-point baskets and shot 50 percent from downtown. The difference in the game ended up coming on the free-throw line, as NSU held a 24-12 advantage.

Hobbs led all scorers with 20 points despite battling foul trouble throughout the game. Keon Littleton posted a season-high 17 points, while Marcus Sheppard added 14 and Evans had 12.

Devers paced Missouri Western State with 16 points. Adarius Fulton scored 12, and both Hans Thun and Dareon Jones had 11.

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