Don Vieth, Director of Athletics Communications
TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State nearly erased a 27-point deficit, as their late comeback would come up short to Washburn, 72-62, on Saturday afternoon inside the NSU Event Center.
The RiverHawks (11-16, 6-13 MIAA) took the Ichabod (19-9, 11-8 MIAA) lead down to four twice in the closing minutes behind a 15 point effort from Bailee Eldred.
Turnovers and hot shooting by Washburn in the first half proved to be harmful combination for the RiverHawks. Northeastern State gave up the ball seven times in the opening ten minutes while the Ichabods were 9-for-14 from the field. Washburn continued to have a hot hand off NSU turnovers with three in the first 2:30 minutes of the second quarter, and ten unanswered points put the RiverHawks back by over 20 points.
The game didn’t spin around until the final 12 minutes and Northeastern State bombarded Washburn with 15 straight points and forcing seven turnovers. With 6:54 left in the game, the RiverHawks were within seven points (58-51) of the Ichabods.
Both teams traded points but a three-pointer from Lauryn Blevins and a free-throw by Cenia Hayes put NSU a possession back (64-60) with just under four minutes remaining.
The Ichabods got a layup and Eldred returned the WU advantage back down to four with 1:33 left to go. In the next possession, Washburn hit a critical jumper while trimming the clock down to just about a minute to go back up by six.
Northeastern State would come up empty handed the rest of the way going 0-for-3 from the field in the final 60 seconds.
Blevins came off the bench after missing the prior two games with 12 points, Hayes had 11, and Miranda Griffin added nine in her final home contest. Alexis Hill, also in her final home start had seven points and four assists.
Washburn shot 51.9-percent from the field and were 7-for-13 at the arc. However, NSU’s defense forced them inside and they only made two attempts in the second half. The RiverHawks were 46.8-percent from the field and trailed 31-to-21 in rebounding.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
5 – Northeastern State will make their fifth MIAA Tournament appearance.
18 – Despite committing a season high 22 turnovers, the RiverHawks had an 18-17 edge in points scored off miscues.
23 – The RiverHawks bench outscored the Ichabods 23-to-6.
Northeastern State will now advance to the MIAA Tournament opening round, which will take place on Monday, Feb. 26 on the campus of Emporia State. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.