A hot start from Dillon Bailey and a strong finish from Christian Cook propelled the RiverHawks to an 82-72 win over Newman on Saturday evening inside the NSU Event Center.
The freshman duo scored 29 combined points as NSU snapped a six-game skid, and it was the team's first home win of the season.
"It's been a while since we experienced a winning locker room, and I'm really just thrilled for them," said head coach Ja Havens. We fought down the stretch when they (Newman) chipped into the lead late; I thought we stepped up to make plays late."
"It wasn't a masterpiece. It was what we needed desperately. We had a great first half. I'm mean statistically, our effort level, our defensive intensity to start the game. We told them at halftime that they would come out with intensity...and they did. It was good to see our guys come together and decide that we're going to make the right plays, we're going to make the right passes, we are going to be tough with the ball and step up and make free throws late."
Cook scored 20 points and shot 7-for-10 on the floor to pace all players on the floor. Obi Agu recorded his first double-double in an NSU uniform with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Troy Locke had 12, and Brad Davis came away with ten. Bailey had all nine of his points scored in the first half.
"It was big for me because I was struggling at the beginning of the year," said Cook. "I couldn't put in a three and to come out here and put 20, it was amazing, it was good for my confidence."
DeVonta Prince threw down a pair of dunks on Newman, finishing with eight points and five rebounds.
The RiverHawks blasted past the Jets out of the gates with a 13-0 run and played a strong first half shooting 53.6-percent on the floor (15-28). Bailey paced the RiverHawks with nine points, surpassing his career mark. NSU led as many as 17 points over Newman and took a 39-26 lead into the locker room.
A 12-2 run early in the second half by Newman allowed enough of an opportunity to crawl back into the ballgame. With 4:51 left in the game, the Jets managed to trim down the NSU lead to one (62-61). The RiverHawks responded back with an 8-2 run fueled by a Cook dunk and treys from Agu and Davis.
Saturday's win is the fourth straight for NSU (2-7, 2-7 MIAA) over Newman (2-7, 2-7 MIAA), who has now dropped three in a row. The Jets were led in scoring by Ian Lee, who scored 19 off the bench.
For the second straight game, NSU out-rebounded a team pulled down 38, besting the Jets by nine. The RiverHawks shot a season-high 53.7-percent on the floor on 29-for-54 shooting.
Northeastern State will be away from the Event Center for the next two weeks. However, they will stay close next Saturday, Jan 16, where they will visit Claremore to face Rogers State.
NOTABLES - Northeastern State never trailed the Jets and led as many as 17 points with 1:24 left in the first half. It was the largest lead for the RiverHawks this season … second time this season NSU has a 20-point scorer off the bench, Troy Locke had 21 at Fort Hays State earlier in the season … Cook is the fourth NSU player to score at least 20 points in a game this season … a late foul put Davis at the line where he was able to keep his streak going of consecutive 10+ point outings, the senior is now at seven straight… Locke pushed his consecutive 10+ game streak to five … the RiverHawks are 7-0 against Newman in Tahlequah.
NSU women hold off Newman: Northeastern State (3-6 in MIAA) women's basketball had two players with double-doubles for the first time since 2010 and held off Newman (2-6 in MIAA) 60-46 on their home court Saturday afternoon.
Zaria Collins had 20 points to go with a career-high 11 rebounds and Cenia Hayes finished with a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double while Shae Sanchez dished out a career-high eight assists.
"I think they got on the glass which was important today, to win that battle," head coach Fala Bullock said. "Cenia shot it so well to start the game and I can't say enough about Z and what she brings with that stability piece. She got on the glass today and it was great to see her get her finishes and just to be a rebounder."
"Those guys can shoot it and they had a tough night but our ladies did a great job getting to the glass and ripping down rebounds. We looked a little tougher than we did Thursday night."
The RiverHawks came out of the locker room on fire bursting out to a 10-0 and forced three Newman turnovers before the Jets eventually scored at the 4:45 mark. Though the Jets made a 10-0 run lead themselves to knot it with 1:55 in the first quarter, NSU's sophomore forward Collins laid it in before senior guard Hayes knocked down two 3-pointers to push the lead to 18-12. For the quarter Northeastern State made 4-7 of its attempts, tying a season-high.
In the second stanza, Newman's Faith Mason-Vestal got in a groove offensively scoring nine of its 14 points. The RiverHawks continued to run the offense through Collins as she tossed a shot off the top of the backboard that somehow fell in. At the 4:41 mark redshirt-freshman, Tess Talo Tomokino, made an and-1 layup as she dipped through the defense that collapsed on Collins. At the halftime break, NSU led by a slim margin, 28-26.
The third quarter saw Northeastern State shoot 47.1 percent to lead 44-38 with one 10-minute stanza to go. Collins got on a roll seemingly making everything she put up in the third following a junior Maegan Lee steal and outlet pass at the 5:11 mark.
The RiverHawks held the Jets scoreless the final 5:02 of the game where the visitors shot just 13.6 percent from the floor. When junior Morgan Lee drew a charge with 2:52 remaining the NSU Event Center came alive and NSU closed out the game, winning the quarter 16-8.
It was the first win for the Northeastern State since Nov. 21, 2020, and the team is now 3-2 at home on the season.
Northeastern State opens a three-game road trip at Rogers State Saturday, Jan. 16 with tip-off scheduled for 1:30 p.m. It then plays Central Missouri and Lincoln before returning to Tahlequah for the back half of the campaign to close out the month.
NOTES - The first time two players have had double-doubles since Feb. 20, 2010…NSU moves to 2-2 on Saturdays this season; the only day at .500 or better…The bench outscored the Jets' 19-9…Held opponent to under 30.0 percent shooting for the first time this season…50 rebounds ranks as the most for a RiverHawks team under head coach Fala Bullock.