Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

March 8, 2014

Gipson's career ends as NSU loses heartbreaker in MIAA semifinals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Northeastern State men’s basketball team lost 61-60 to Central Oklahoma in the semifinals of the 2014 MIAA Championship Saturday evening inside Municipal Auditorium.

The No. 9-seeded RiverHawks (16-13) saw their season come to a close, while the No. 5-seeded Bronchos (20-9) move on to face either No. 2 seed Northwest Missouri State or No. 3 seed Missouri Southern State at 3:30 p.m. March 9 for the conference championship.

Larry Gipson coached his final game for Northeastern State, as he announced his retirement on Feb. 16. He ends his historic career with an overall record of 565-361 as a collegiate head coach, and he finished his 17-year run at NSU with a record of 280-201.

“This is a tough pill to swallow because I thought, at the very minimum, we played even with this team. It’s a game that could have gone either way," Gipson said. "Unfortunately for us, it didn’t go the way we wanted."

Senior guard Bryton Hobbs led the RiverHawks with a game-high 28 points. He hit six 3-point baskets and also added six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Hobbs ended his two-year career at NSU with 1,182 points. He led the MIAA in scoring this season with a 23-1 ppg average. Senior forward Marcus Sheppard ended his career with a 10-point, five-rebound, four-assist performance.

NSU shot 40.8 percent (20-for-49) from the field, 44.8 percent (13-for-29) from behind the 3-point line and 63.6 percent (7-for-11) at the free-throw line. UCO shot 46.2 percent (24-for-52) overall, 29.4 percent (5-for-17) from downtown and 80 percent (8-for-10) at the line.

Josh Gibbs finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Aaron Anderson added 16 points from the Bronchos.

Central Oklahoma jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead, and the Bronchos stretched their lead out to eight points at 22-14 after NSU battled back within one. The RiverHawks stayed steady and eventually were able to tie the game at 29-29 with 20 seconds left in the first half, but a put-back from Anderson at the buzzer gave UCO a 31-29 halftime advantage.

The Bronchos again went ahead by eight at 43-35 at the 14:04 mark, but Northeastern State used a 14-1 run to take a 49-44 lead with 10:04 to play. A three from Cal Andrews and a layup from Philip Brown cut the NSU lead down to one, but another quick 5-0 spurt from the green and white put them on top 55-49 at the 6:52 mark.

NSU maintained the six-point advantage all the way until the 3:07 mark, when back-to-back three’s from Jarred Bairstow and Andrews tied the game at 57-57.

Hobbs hit a three with 1:27 left, but Gibbs got an offensive rebound and tip-in to make the score 60-59 in favor of the RiverHawks on UCO’s next possession. Hobbs missed a three on NSU’s next time down the floor, and another offensive rebound from Gibbs with 4.8 seconds remaining would spell doom for Northeastern State.

He corralled a missed shot and was fouled on the put-back attempt, and e calmly sank both free throws to put UCO on top. A contested Hobbs three at the buzzer would not draw iron as the Bronchos earned the victory.

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