Northeastern State won its second straight game to start the season Saturday, defeating Missouri Western, 82-74, at NSU Event Center behind senior Cenia Hayes’ game-high 24 points.
It’s the first 2-0 start for the RiverHawks since they opened the 2015-16 season with back-to-back wins over Northwestern Oklahoma State and Southeastern Oklahoma State, and the first 2-0 start in MIAA play since 2014-15. The win over the Griffons is the first since Dec. 19, 2013.
Hayes, who shot 8 of 15 overall from the floor and 7 of 7 from the free throw line, went over 1,000 points for her career. She also posted a game-high five steals and grabbed six rebounds.
Sophomore forward Zaria Collins, coming off a career-high 22 points in NSU’s season opener against Northwest Missouri, added 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting and went 5 for 5 from the foul line.
The RiverHawks were 26 of 28 from the free throw line and shot 44.1 percent overall from the floor. They were 4 of 11 from 3-point range and forced 19 turnovers.
Sophomore forward Britney Ho also finished in double figures with 14 points and led the RiverHawks with nine rebounds.
NSU took the lead for good at the 3:58 mark of the third quarter following a pair of free throws by Collins that made it 54-52. It was the start of an 8-0 run for the RiverHawks that also included a basket and two free throws by Ho, and a pair of free throws from Hayes.
Hayes climbed over 1,000 points on a layup with 7:58 remaining that gave NSU a 68-60 advantage, and the RiverHawks extended their lead to 12 points (73-61) after a transition layup by Collins with 7:05 left in the contest.
Missouri Western trimmed NSU’s lead to six points twice in the final 35 seconds, but the RiverHawks responded both times with two free throws apiece from Hayes and senior guard Shae Sanchez.
The Griffons, who defeated Rogers State, 83-81, in Claremore in their season opener, were paced by Jordan Cunningham’s 19 points. Asia McCoy followed with 14 points and six rebounds, while Camille Evans added 12 points and six boards.
Missouri Western shot 43.3 percent overall, went 5 for 17 from 3-point territory, and 11 of 15 from the free throw line. The Griffons outrebounded NSU, 38-35.
The RiverHawks will play their third straight home game on Saturday, Nov. 28 when they host Emporia State in a 1:30 p.m. tipoff at the NSU Event Center. Emporia State (0-1) is coming off a 59-54 setback at Nebraska-Kearney. The Hornets had their Nov. 21 game against Fort Hays State postponed.