Lady Norse win fourth straight OCAC title

NEO Sports
Monty Franks

MIAMI — Limiting the Murray State College Lady Aggies to 17 points in the final two quarters, the No. 11 ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Lady Norse annexed their fourth consecutive Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference crown Monday with a 58-46 victory in the NEO Field House.

“We hadn’t been home in three weeks, so I really felt this game was going to go like it did,” NEO head coach Jim Rowland. “Sometimes, when you aren’t playing in front of your hometown crowd, you get over anxious when you do come home and I thought that happed to us tonight.”

With their eighth straight victory, the Lady Norse are 14-1 in the conference and 24-2 on the season.

NEO avenged a hard-fought 61-59 loss on Jan. 26 to the Lady Aggies in Tishomingo while finishing the month of February with a perfect 7-0 record.

The Lady Aggies conclude the regular season with a 7-9 mark in the OCAC and an 11-15 overall record.

Remaining in the friendly confines of the NEO Field House, the Lady Norse concludes the regular season at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with the annual Sophomore Appreciation Night and Dixie Woodall Scholarship presentation. Both ceremonies will occur between the women and men’s games.

Six of the 10 members of the OCAC will advance to the quarterfinals of the Women’s Division I Region II Tournament set to begin March 9 in the Don Sumner Field House on the campus of St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee.

Pairings for the eight team single-elimination tournament will be announced Friday with teams seeded seven through 10 scheduled to have a play-in game Monday, March 6 on the highest seed’s home court.

Against Murray State, the over-anxiousness of the Lady Norse carried over from the first quarter through the first four minutes of the second.

The Lady Aggies used an aggressive front court to forge an 18-14 lead through the first quarter. Guards Carolyn Lawley and Aaliyah Endsley along with forward Hannah Howard combined for six points each to fuel the Lady Aggies offense.

Two layups by sophomore center Hatty Nawezhi alone with a 3-point field goal by Maria Delgado rallied the Lady Norse to their first lead of 26-25 with 6:21 left until halftime.

Over the next five minutes the lead changed six times before the Lady Norse carved out a 31-28 lead at intermission. Delgado ignited the rally with 10 points while Nawezhi added 8, Jennah Coffman 5, Kamy Orr 4 and both Mariah Green and Sara Boric added 2 points each.

During the third quarter NEO’s defense clamped down and limited Murray to only five total points in 10 minutes.

“We told our team during halftime that we had to win the third and fourth quarter, but definitely the third,” Rowland said. “When we went out and won the third then we were in control of the game.

“I also thought that Murray State got a little tired offensively,” Rowland said. “That allowed us an opportunity to take away some of the things that they wanted to do.”

After pulling away to a 45-34 cushion at the end of three quarters, NEO earned a 13-12 victory during the final 10 minutes.

“You can’t take anything away from Murray because they are probably the best athletically they’ve ever been,” Rowland said. “I also think they play hard from start to finish.”

Delgado led the Lady Norse with 15 total points while Orr scored 13, Coffman 8, Green 7, Mikayla Shulanberger 3 and Boric 2.

Nawezhi contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for her 12th double-double performance this season.

Howard paced the Lady Aggies with 11 pointrs, Lawley 10, Endsley 8, Rachel Poke 7, Amaka Nwakamma 5, Bailey Eldred 3 and Charlea Leonard 2.

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