Northeastern State closed out its up and down season with an exclamation point rallying back from a 15 point deficit to beat Rogers State 78-76 on Saturday evening.
The RiverHawks only led for just over two minutes, but it was the most important ones. On his senior night, Brad Davis popped a long-range three to give NSU a 73-70 lead with 2:48 left. From there, it was a ball game.
Both teams trade buckets down the stretch; Rogers State inched ahead 76-75 with a layup with 50 seconds left. NSU missed a three-pointer in the next possession to give the Hillcats chance to extend.
Following an RSU timeout, they missed a three-pointer and got the offensive rebound. With seven seconds left, the Hillcats lost the ball and was picked up by Trey Sampson, who led a pack of players across the court to beat the clock. He would get pushed out of bounce, but the ball would stay with NSU.
Christian Cook powered into the rim for the go-ahead bucket with four seconds left on the clock on the inbound.
RSU quickly pushed the ball across the court, but a mid-court collision with just over two seconds left to put the Hillcats on the line. With an opportunity to pull ahead, the Rogers State player missed both free-throws to hand the RiverHawks the late-season win.
"It's been a tough year, and we went through a lot of adversity, and we won three of our last five, our last two home games against good teams," said head coach Ja Havens. "Our back was against the wall at halftime today, and I thought the way [the players] responded and fought in the second half on both ends of the floor to work and get good shots against a very good defensive team and to make plays down the stretch. I'm very proud of them.
We had a lot of guys step up and make big plays when we needed them. The big thing was they stayed the course and kept at it, didn't give in or back down. They put themselves in position to win the game."
Davis paced the RiverHawks on the floor with 18 points and landed four three-pointers; Cook had 16 in this second career start.
Obi Agu scored 11 and pulled down eight off the glass. Trey Sampson had just six points but was big on the defensive end with eight rebounds and a season-best five blocks.
The RiverHawks finished the final 20 minutes of the game, shooting 61.5-percent on the floor on 16-for-26 shooting. On the glass, they paced the Hillcats by six with 38 as a team.
Northeastern State (5-17, 5-17 MIAA) finished their season, winning three of their last five with plenty of momentum heading into the offseason.
Rogers State, who was 4-0 in Tahlequah, dropped to 11-11 (11-11 MIAA) overall.
Saturday's contest does end NSU's season somewhat. They are done officially stat-wise but will have a meeting with Tulsa on Thursday to face the Golden Hurricane at noon. The contest is an exhibition for the RiverHawks and will count officially for TU.
NSU women fall in season finale: Zaria Collins and Cenia Hayes both had 20 point games, but a pair of late buckets by Rogers State ended Northeastern State's season with a 62-59 defeat Saturday.
Collins paced both teams with 23 points to lead the RiverHawks in scoring for the 11th time this season. The sophomore also grabbed 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
Hayes tied the game at 57-57 with 3:07 left and scored 21 points for her 20th career game with at least 20 points. The Tahlequah native moved up to fifth on NSU's all-time scoring list on her senior night and has 1282 career points.
The RiverHawks went scoreless in the final 90 seconds of the game while RSU got a go-ahead bucket with 1:17 left. In the last seconds of the game, a turnover by NSU allowed the Hillcats to get a layup before the buzzer to ice the game and sweep the season series.
Northeastern State shot 36.8-percent from the field on 21-for-57 shooting. From the arc, they were 4-for-15.
Behind Collins' 11 rebounds, NSU paced the Hillcats by three with 33 on the glass.
Rogers State finishes their season with a 6-16 record (6-16 MIAA).
Northeastern State closes their season with an identical record to the Hillcats.