By Cedrique Flemming, NSU Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
TAHLEQUAH – The Northeastern State men’s basketball team lost 96-94 in double overtime to Central OklahomaThursday night inside the NSU Event Center.
The RiverHawks (11-9, 6-7 MIAA) lost for the fifth time in a row, and they have also now dropped seven of their last eight contests. The Bronchos improved to 13-7 overall and 7-6 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
The game was the first double OT session for NSU since a 76-68 home victory over Texas A&M-Commerce on Feb. 13, 2008.
Senior guard Bryton Hobbs finished with 35 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a career-high 50 minutes. Junior guard Michael Harmon earned his first start and finished with a season-best 23 points. He connected on 7 of 13 from behind the three-point line. Senior forward Marcus Sheppard added 11 points.
Northeastern State shot 45.6 percent (31-for-68) from the field, 35.1 percent (13-for-37) from behind the three-point line and 76 percent (19-for-25) at the free-throw line. UCO shot 44.9 percent (31-for-69) from the field, 37.9 percent (11-for-29) from behind the arc and 59 percent (23-for-39) at the line.
Josh Gibbs led the Bronchos with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Aaron Anderson and Seth Heckart both finished with 19 points, and Cal Andrews added 15.
NSU outrebounded UCO 47-39, which marked the first time in eight games that NSU has won the rebounding battle.
The two teams jockeyed for position in the early going, and the RiverHawks took a lead at the 11:09 mark and led for the remainder of the opening half. NSU extended its advantage to 42-32 by intermission.
Central Oklahoma quickly cut the lead down to three points in the first three minutes of the second half, but the home side was able to extend it back to eight 55-47 with 10:38 left in regulation.
With Northeastern State up 58-50, Andrews hit back-to-back 3-point baskets to keep the score from getting out of hand, and a crucial technical foul by NSU’s Sheppard at the 3:21 mark gave the Bronchos four free throws and its first lead (65-63) since early in the first half.
UCO kept a three-point lead with 15 seconds left, but Hobbs was fouled on a three-point attempt with eight seconds left. He converted all three free throws and Anderson missed a wide-open look at the buzzer on the other end of the floor to send the game to overtime.
Central Oklahoma exploded for a seven-point lead at 80-73 in the first OT with 1:08 left, but the RiverHawks closed on an 8-1 run to send the game into another extra session. Hobbs had an and-1 and a layup, and junior forward Curtis Evans hit a rare three with 24 seconds to play to aid the comeback.
NSU again trailed for nearly the entire second OT, but this deficit would be too much to overcome as UCO staved off the home team to earn the narrow two-point victory.
NSU returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Emporia State. The Hornets topped NSU 72-67 in Tahlequah on Jan. 22.