Kendrick Thompson scored a career-high 28 points and Northeastern State rolled to its fourth consecutive win to start the season on Saturday evening with a 76-56 win over Oklahoma Christian at the NSU Event Center.
Thompson, a senior guard who missed all of last year with an ACL injury, knocked down six of the RiverHawks’ 14 3-pointers and shot 11 of 17 overall from the floor.
“Kendrick bailed us out, our shooting bailed us out," said NSU head coach Mark Downey. "I didn't think we played very well early. They were, I mean to their credit we told our guys, I didn't think we prepared very well for this game in terms of practice, our preparation wasn't very good Thursday and Friday, so it did worry me.
“It’s so much better to learn a lesson in a win than it is in a loss. It’s a good win and we’ll take it. I know, it’s a coach deal when you complain about a 20-point win, but we’ve got work to do.”
Junior guard Brad Davis joined Thompson in double figures with 15 points off the bench and canned four 3s. Eleven of Davis’ points came in the first 20 minutes.
“I thought Brad Davis did a really great job of getting us going,” Downey said.
NSU has been dominant through four games, defeating opponents by an average margin of 33 points. The RiverHawks are shooting 50.6 percent overall, 43.9 from 3-point range, 80.7 from the foul line, outrebounding opponents 155-128, forcing 16.8 turnovers and averaging 6.8 steals.
“We’ve got some more talent,” Downey said. “We’ve got some guys that can make shots and we can really score from every spot. Kendrick and Brad did that tonight for us.”
NSU started the second half with a 10-0 run to separate itself after leading 40-34 at halftime. Caleb Smith started the surge with a layup, Aaron Givens followed with basket from the inside, and Thompson buried back-to-back 3s to push the lead to 50-34 with 16:34 remaining.
Oklahoma Christian, led by Dedrian Parmer’s 17 points and eight rebounds, got back to within 12 points (54-42) on a pair of York Benjamin free throws, but never got closer.
The RiverHawks led by as many as 23 points, 76-53, after a Troy Locke free throw with 34 seconds left.
Northeastern State shot 47.5 percent overall and was good on 14 of its 25 3-pointers. Iain McLaughlin contributed with nine points, Givens closed with eight, and Smith finished with six. Givens pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, Smith led with six assists, and both Thompson and Smith had steals.
The RiverHawks limited Oklahoma Christian, who falls to 0-2, to 32.1 overall shooting. The Eagles also received double-figure scoring from Anthony Johnson, who ended with 14 points.