Northeastern State will make its return to the hardwood Thursday when it hosts top-ranked Northwest Missouri in a 1 p.m. tipoff at the NSU Event Center.
The RiverHawks, 1-5 under head coach Ja Havens, haven’t found the win column since upsetting previously-No. 21 Missouri Southern, 90-89, in Joplin, Missouri on Dec. 3.
The Bearcats have played just three games and haven’t played since Dec. 5 when they posted an 84-54 home win over Lincoln. They also have wins over Central Missouri (74-67) and Rogers State (86-78).
In its last outing, NSU fell on the road to Nebraska-Kearney, 72-66. It was the fourth time that the RiverHawks have allowed at least 50 percent shooting to an opponent. The Lopers shot 50.8 percent and were paced by a game-high 25 points from Jake Walker.
The RiverHawks haven’t had any consistency with the makeup of their roster with players either being injured, out with COVID-19, or leaving the program. Guard Kavion Hancock, a NJCAA All-American that averaged better than 26 points per game in 2019-20 for Jackson State prior to his arrival at NSU, has departed, and senior guard Caleb Williams, who had 36 points in NSU’s win over Missouri Southern and is the team’s leading scorer, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Junior forward Trey Sampson missed the season opener, junior guard Rashad Perkins did not play against Nebraska-Kearney, and senior guard Troy Locke has been limited to three games.
Senior guard Brad Davis has been the most consistent with minutes played and scoring. Davis, averaging 12.3 points, has been in double figures in all but one game, including a season-high 19 points in the season opener against Emporia State.
Sampson is averaging 13.6 points and leads the team with 4.2 rebounds per game. Sampson had a season-high 22 points against Missouri Western and pulled down 10 rebounds and Fort Hays State.
Locke is averaging 12.7 points and has scored a combined 32 points in NSU’s last two contests, including 21 on 6 of 12 shooting against Fort Hays State. Perkins is also averaging in double figures at 11.4 points.
The Bearcats are led by two of the MIAA’s top three scorers in Ryan Hawkins and Trevor Hudgins. Hawkins is averaging 23.7 points, and Hudgins follows at 21.3. Hawkins, a 6-foot-7 forward, poured in 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Lincoln, and Hudgins, a junior point guard, had a season-best 27 points against Rogers State.
NSU’s next four games are at the NSU Event Center. Following Thursday’s contest, the RiverHawks will host Washburn (Jan. 2), Central Oklahoma (Jan. 7) and Newman (Jan. 9).