The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 17, 2014

NEO falls in juco tourney

Golden Norsemen defeated 79-62 by New Mexico Junior College

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Inaccurate shooting from the field and inadequate defensive effort proved costly for No. 17 seed Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Monday as the Golden Norsemen were eliminated by No. 16 seed New Mexico Junior College 79-62 in the first game of the Men’s Division 1 National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.

“We knew coming into the national tournament that we were going to have to be able to score and we didn’t,” Golden Norseman head coach Dustin Grover said. “They did a better job than we did, and they hit shots.

“We could never get into any kind of offensive flow, especially in the first half,” Grover said. “You’re not going to beat anybody when you only hit 29 percent (8-of-28) from the field to start the game.”

With the loss, the Golden Norsemen finish 22-11 on the season while the Thunderbirds of Hobbs, N.M., advanced to today’s second-round game against No. 1 seed Indian Hills (Iowa, 31-2) at 2 p.m. The Thunderbirds are 27-6 on the year.

“We kind of countered New Mexico’s aggressiveness a little in the second half by getting 15 offensive rebounds,” Grover said. “But they wound up shooting 53 percent from the field (31-of-59) for the game, so it didn’t help too much.”

New Mexico led from start to finish in the game and took advantage of NEO’s poor shooting to build a 33-22 lead with 3:21 until halftime. The Thunderbirds received seven points each from Chad Boucher, Nick Billingsley and Kenrich Williams along with six points by Rashaun Madison and three points each by former NEO guard Jeff Newberry and Marcus Frazier along with two points by Jeff Newson to carry a 35-25 advantage to the locker room at intermission.

Long-range shooting was a factor as the Thunderbirds built their lead by hitting 6-of-17 attempts from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes while NEO managed only 2-7 from behind the arc.

“Igor (Ibaka) came out early in the second half and sort of established himself in the middle,” Grover said. “But we went away from trying to get him the ball and fell too far behind.”

A 3-pointer by Madison increased the Thunderbirds’ lead to 60-46 at the eight minute mark of the second half.

Madison’s fifth trey of the game gave New Mexico its largest lead at 71-52 with 3:06 remaining in the game.

“The biggest factor for us in this game was that it’s so hard to defend if you don’t score,” Grover said. “If you’re not putting points on the board, then your defensive energy is not where it’s supposed to be.

“It is so important to score in this first game,” Grover said. “When we were here in 2008, we put a lot of points on the board and made the most of our free-throw shooting. We didn’t get that done this time.”

Ja’mill Powell led the Golden Norse with 18 points while Ibaka and Christian Leach contributed 17 points each, Derrick Frye seven, Erikk Wright Jr. two and Lionel Green Jr. one.

Newberry tallied 18 points to lead the Thunderbirds while Madison finished with 17, Boucher 13, Billingsley 12, Williams eight, Jeff Neverson six and Marcus Frazier five.

The Thunderbirds bench also outscored the Golden Norsemen by a 17-8 margin.

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