From NWOSU Sports Infomation
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Destiny Smith scored a game-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds as Henderson State University (Ark.) knocked off Northwestern Oklahoma State 70-57 Saturday afternoon.
Northwestern (4-11, 3-6 Great American Conference) was unable to find its offensive groove, turning the ball over 10 times in the first 11 minutes of the opening half. HSU (9-6, 4-5 GAC) took advantage of the offensive miscues and went on a 10-2 run midway through the first half, which opened up a 21-12 lead.
“I don’t care who you are playing against, if you turn the ball over as much as we did, it’s hard to win,” said Northwestern head coach Eric Bozeman, who is still looking for his first GAC road win of the season.
In the first half HSU shot 12-of-23 from the floor, which was good for 52.2 percent and took a 29-21 lead into halftime. Northwestern shot 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) from the floor.
The second half was much of the same for Northwestern as HSU built a large lead and cruised to victory.
The Lady Reddies’ attacked the paint and scored 44 points, which frustrated Bozeman.
“We didn’t have an answer for that.” Bozeman said. “They continued to attack us in the post and were successful. But you have to give them credit, they found our weakness and made us pay.”
HSU became just the second team all year to shoot better than 50 percent against the Rangers, hitting 27-of-52 (51.9 percent) from the field. The Rangers were 19-of-48 (39.6 percent).
LaParis Newsom scored 18 points to lead the Rangers.
Northwestern returns to action Saturday and host Southwestern Oklahoma State at 2 p.m.
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – A battle between the Great American Conference’s two highest-scoring offenses and lowest-rated scoring defenses delivered exactly what you might have expected.
Points. Lots of them.
Henderson State’s Melvin Haynes hit eight threes on his way to 30 points, and the host Reddies overcame a career-high 28 from Northwestern Oklahoma State’s Daryl Glover for a wild 89-86 win Saturday afternoon at the Duke Wells Center.
Northwestern (7-8, 5-4 GAC) and HSU (9-6, 4-5) came in averaging 75.8 and 74.5 points-per-game, respectively, during conference play. Both were allowing over 75 a game.
The four highest-scoring games in conference play this year have all involved Northwestern or HSU. The Rangers and East Central combined for 186 points in a 101-85 Northwestern win last week. Saturday’s 175 points tied for the second-highest scoring contest.
Not surprisingly, there were offensive heroes galore.
Glover’s 28-points stand out, but the senior contributed in a variety of ways. He knocked down a pair of threes and also did damage on the drive and at the free throw line, finishing 9-of-19 from the field and 8-for-12 at the free throw line. He added eight assists to just two turnovers, grabbed five rebounds and came up with a pair of steals.
Glover’s previous career-high of 26 points came a week earlier against East Central. He surpassed that mark with 3:38 to play, sinking a huge trey to give Northwestern a 75-74 lead.
Haynes, who became the first individual to score 30 points in regulation against the Rangers since December of 2011, hit four-of-eight shots from beyond the arc in the first half. As it turned out, he was only getting warmed up. With Northwestern packing its defense inside to account for the post presence of Fitzgerald, Haynes took aim, hitting four-of-six in the final 20 minutes.
“We really didn’t want to get spread out in that zone, because we knew he could hit a few,” said Northwestern head coach Andrew Brown. “It’s one thing to get a look, but it’s another thing to be able to bury them. Give him credit.”
The last of those threes answered Glover’s, putting HSU up 79-77 with 2:51 remaining.
Marshall Bell scored nine of his 14 points in the final six minutes – all on three-pointers of his own. After Haynes’ three, Bell hit one on the other end, as Northwestern swung back in front, 80-79.
That three also moved him past Ramon Byndom and into fourth place on Northwestern’s career scoring list.
HSU pushed the ball up quickly, scoring on a Matt Nicholson floater. Bruce Wright missed a three for Northwestern, and Fitzgerald drained two more foul shots to put HSU ahead 83-80.
With just 1:30 to play, Bell knocked down yet another triple to tie it right back up at 83.
The final 10 minutes featured seven ties and 11 lead changes, as the two teams traded clutch shots.
With just over a minute to go, the Reddies’ Jonathan Fitzgerald broke the final tie and gave HSU the lead for good, absorbing contact from Jesse Smith and scoring inside. Smith was whistled for his fifth personal foul and Fitzgerald knocked down the free throw to make it an 86-83 HSU lead.
Smith joined Jonathan Freemyer (who had fouled out at the 4:29 mark) on the bench and the Rangers faced a three-point deficit with a suddenly-thin frontcourt.
Smith’s absence didn’t immediately hurt the Rangers. Six-foot-two Eze Akwari shifted to the power forward spot and grabbed a critical offensive rebound on Northwestern’s next possession, drawing a foul in the process. Akwari hit both free throws to make it an 86-85 game.
Northwestern played for a defensive stop, but Brandon Wooley was whistled for a blocking foul as Fitzgerald attacked the basket. Fitzgerald hit both foul shots to push the lead back out to the three with just 12 seconds remaining.
HSU opted to foul Northwestern rather than allow them to attempt the game-tying three. Glover hit the first and missed the second, but Akwari snagged the rebound.
Akwari threw up a quick jumper that might have sent the game to overtime. Instead it missed, and the Reddies were there for a game-sealing rebound with half a second to play.
The Rangers led the entire first half, pushing their lead out to as many as 10 points on a rare four-point play. With just over five minutes to play in the half, Glover hit a three, drawing contact from Fitzgerald in the process. Glover then buried a foul shot to put Northwestern up 31-21.
Northwestern shot 57.1 percent in the opening half – its best first-half shooting performance of the year – to take a 42-37 lead into the locker room.
HSU tied it twice early in the second half. Otherwise, the Rangers remained in front until the 10:02 mark before the Reddies took their first lead of the day – fittingly via a Haynes three-pointer.
Freemyer – who finished with 12 points in just 21 minutes of action – picked up his fourth foul with five minutes left while guarding Fitzgerald. He was whistled for an offensive foul just 31 second later, ending his night.
“It really hurt us not having (Freemyer) down the stretch. We needed that game to end about five minutes sooner than it did,” said Brown.
The Rangers dropped to 1-4 in conference road games and are 2-6 overall on the road. A win Saturday might have put them in position to challenge for the conference lead when Southwestern Oklahoma State comes to town next weekend. Instead, they’ll try to take some satisfaction from .500 road trip.
“Splitting on the road is good. Winning today would been great, but we have to move on,” said Brown. “5-4 in the league will put us at about fifth with a chance to get to 6-4 at the turn. We still have a lot to play for.”
Southwestern is the only GAC team that Northwestern has yet to face. The Bulldogs come to town Jan. 26 for a men’s and women’s doubleheader beginning at 2:00 p.m.
Freemyer moved past Jim Schroeder and into seventh on Northwestern’s all-time scoring list. His 1,322 points are 35 behind Craig Blake for fifth.
Bell (1,383 points) passed Blake in Thursday’s win and now takes aim at former teammate Brandon Brown. Bell is 105 points behind with 11 games remaining.
Northwestern lost for the first time this year when shooting over 50 percent from the field. The Rangers finished at 52.5 percent but allowed HSU to hit 51.8 percent.
Bryan Holmgren is the Director of Athletic Communications at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.