Two teams battling for the lead of the Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference collide tonight as the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen host the 29th-ranked Connors State College Cowboys at 8 p.m. in the NEO Fieldhouse.
Following an 81-66 victory at Eastern State College Monday, coach Dustin Grover’s Golden Norse return home with a 15-9 season record and a 2-1 mark in the Bi-State East.
“We’re going to have to be on top of our game,” Grover said. “Our Achilles’ heel all year has been that we play a very strong first half and then struggle in the second.
“Against a team as talented and well-coached as Connors, we’ll have to put two solid halves together,” Grover said. “But this is always a very intense rivalry, so we better be ready to play.”
Veteran head coach Bill Muse’s Cowboys carry a 18-6 overall record and a 2-0 Bi-State East mark into the game. Last Monday Connors cruised to a 96-73 non-conference win over Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock.
Last season Connors State finished second in the Bi-State East with a 6-2 record. The Cowboys finished 22-9 on the season after losing 86-79 to Northern Oklahoma-Enid in the first round of the Region II Tournament in Shawnee.
The two teams split the regular season series last year by taking advantage of their home courts. The Golden Norse posted an 82-67 win in Miami before the Cowboys earned an 83-75 victory in Warner.
Anchoring the backcourt for the Cowboys are sophomore guards Orlando Brown, Stephon Weaver and Rakeem Couch.
Brown (6-2 of Stringtown) is averaging 7.1 points with 76 assists and 52 steals.
Weaver (6-3 of Forrest City, Ark.) has a 9.1 scoring average with 58 assists and 49 steals.
Couch (6-4 of Little Rock, Ark.) is scoring 13.4 points per game with 95 assists and 63 steals.
Freshmen C.J. Washington and Joe Fontenot will start along the Connors State front line.
Washington (6-7 of Stringtown) leads the Cowboys both in scoring with and 18.6 average and in rebounding with a 9.4 mark.
Fontenot (6-9 of Glen Burnie, Md.) has an 11.5 scoring average and a 7.2 rebounding mark.
Starting in the Golden Norse backcourt will be freshman Jamell Cormier along with sophomores Chase Elliott and Jamere King.
Cormier (6-0 of Stillwater) has a 7.6 scoring average with 40 assists and 19 steals.
Elliott (6-2 of Bristow) is the Golden Norse leader with 29 steals while averaging 10.5 points and recording 24 assists.
King (6-2 of Tulsa) averages 7.6 points with 28 assists and 11 steals.
Freshmen Raphael Martin and Tony Ross will start in the Golden Norse front line.
Martin (6-7 of Staten Island, N.Y.) leads the Golden Norse by averaging 13.7 points per game while grabbing 5.1 rebounds.
Ross (6-7 of Tulsa) is averaging 5.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.