By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —
In a second half that saw both teams struggle to score, Northeastern State put together a late flurry — six unanswered points in 60 seconds — to open a 10-point lead en route to a 56-48 victory over Missouri Southern in MIAA women’s basketball action Wednesday night on Pink Night at Jack Dobbins Fieldhouse.
Senior guards Tosha Tyler and Taylor Lewis scored 17 and 13 points to lead the RiverHawks (17-6, 12-3 MIAA). Tyler hit a 3-point goal with 4:31 remaining to give NSU a 43-38 lead, and Lewis, after missing her first 10 attempts from beyond the arc, hit two in a two-minute span as the RiverHawks took a 52-42 lead with 1:50 left.
Guard Johnna tenBerge tallied a career-best 14 points to pace Missouri Southern (11-11, 5-9). TenBerge hit 4-of-8 3-point shots and 2-of-3 free throws.
Erin Rice contributed 11 points for the Lions, and Dominique Mosley had nine points and nine rebounds. Mosley made her first start in place of Shonte Clay, who didn’t play after twisting an ankle in Monday’s practice.
The teams were tied 31-31 at halftime and 31-31 seven minutes into the second half as the Lions went 0-for-3 from the field, missed two free throws and had five turnovers and the RiverHawks had seven missed shots and two turnovers.
“Offensively we just didn’t get the shots we wanted,” Lions coach Maryann Mitts said. “And the people who were taking shots were probably taking too quick of a shot.”
The shooting stats from the field were similar — 32 percent overall for the Lions, 23 percent in the second half; 35 percent for the RiverHawks, 25 percent in the second half.
But Northeastern State made two more treys and was much better at the foul line, converting 13-of-21 charities to the Lions’ 7-of-17. The Lions, shooting 71 percent from the foul line for the season, missed five of eight free throws in the first 15 minutes of the second half when both teams struggled to score.
“Free throws would have made things a lot easier on us, just making our free throws when it was time to make them,” Mitts said. “I told the players before the game it would come down to three things — how many layups we can hit, how many free throws we can hit, and how many 3s we don’t allow them to hit.
“As far as the 3s are concerned, we did a much better job. We frustrated them … they got two off late, which great teams do. I felt we got their shooters out of rhythm, and they really didn’t get that rhythm back until the last few minutes of the ball game.”
The first half was played in two distinctly different 10-minute segments.
Northeastern State hit four treys while opening a 20-8 lead in the first 10 minutes. But the Lions – in some of their best extended minutes all season – went on a 23-7 spurt to take a 31-27 advantage before NSU scored four points in the final 75 seconds to pull even.
TenBerge ignited the comeback with three 3s in just over three minutes. Tee Singleton and Rice also hit from long range, and Nicole Hartzog scored twice off drives, the first after a steal.
“Our tempo at the end of the first half was the best it’s been all year,” Mitts said. “We were executing well on the offensive end, and we were controlling the game with our defense. Probably the first time all year that I’ve really felt like we were controlling and dictating the tempo of the game. It was probably some of our best minutes of basketball all year.”