From NSU Sports Info.
Cedrique Flemming, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Northeastern State men’s basketball team stunned top seed Central Missouri 84-82 in the quarterfinals of the 2014 MIAA Championship Friday afternoon inside Municipal Auditorium.
The RiverHawks (16-12), who are seeded No. 9 in the tournament, will face No. 5 seed Central Oklahoma in the semifinals at 6 p.m. March 7. The Bronchos posted an 83-68 victory over No. 4 Fort Hays State in the quarterfinals. The No. 15-ranked Mules (24-5), who are currently the top-ranked team in the Central Region, saw their 10-game win streak snapped and will now wait for the NCAA Championship bracket announcement.
Senior guard Bryton Hobbs finished with 31 points to lead all scorers. He poured in 29 of those points in the second half and reached the 30-point plateau for the fifth time this season. Hobbs hit 11 of 12 from the free-throw line and connected on 6 of 10 from downtown. He also tallied nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 40 minutes.
Junior forward Landon DeMasters added 16 points and junior guard Michael Harmon contributed 11, nine of which came in the first half.
Northeastern State shot 44 percent (22-for-50) from the field, 52.2 percent (12-for-23) from downtown and 84.8 percent (28-for-33) at the free-throw line. UCM shot 43.1 percent (28-for-65) from the field, 47.1 percent (8-for-17) from distance and just 60 percent (18-for-30) at the charity stripe.
Central Missouri, the regular-season MIAA champions and defending MIAA Tournament champions, was led by Dillon Deck, Preston Brunz and Daylen Robinson, who all finished with 17 points. Charles Hammork added 10 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
The contest was a tale of two halves. The first was a defensive slugfest that saw a mere 54 combined points, and the final 20 minutes turned into a shootout. The two teams combined for 112 points in the second half and both scored more than the 54 total tallied in the first half.
The first 20 minutes saw five ties and 12 lead changes. Neither team led by more than four points, and it was a triple from Harmon with 1:09 left on the clock that helped NSU take a 29-25 advantage into the locker room. The 25 points for Central Missouri was the fewest scored by the Mules in any half this season.
NSU maintained its advantage in the early moments of the second half, but the team could never gain any measurable separation.
That was until the 13:08 mark, when Hobbs connected on a 3-point basket that sparked a 14-2 run to give the RiverHawks a 54-40 lead with 10 minutes to play. During that critical run, Hobbs hit three-straight 3’s and totaled 11 points.
Northeastern State stretched its lead to 61-46 with 8:06 to play, but the top-ranked Mules would not go down quietly.
Brunz began to rain 3’s, Robinson started attacking the rim and hitting contested jump shots, and Deck started dominating the paint. The RiverHawks did all they could to fend off UCM, but a pair of Brunz triples cut the lead to just 79-76 with 44 seconds remaining.
Hobbs and senior forward Marcus Sheppard hit three free throws to extend the lead, but a 3-point basket from Jon Gilliam with 17 seconds to go again cut the NSU lead to just three.
Hobbs connected on a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left, and Brunz knocked down his fifth three of the game with seven seconds left to push the score to 84-82. Junior guard Amir Gilliam missed a pair of free throws with five seconds on the clock, but the Mules were never able to get off a final shot as the RiverHawks held on for the upset victory.