MIAMI — Staunch defensive play and accurate free throw shooting carried the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen to a 57-46 victory Monday night over Western Oklahoma State College in the NEO Field House.
While winning their second straight Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference game, the Golden Norse are 2-3 in league play. NEO is 10-8 overall.
“We defended, we rebounded, we slowed down transition and we contested shots,” Golden Norse head coach Dustin Grover said. “We stayed in front of them the entire game and forced them to make some real tough shots.
“We also rebounded the ball really well and offensively we hit some shots,” Grover said. “We outscored them 18-8 at the free throw line and hit enough perimeter to hold them at bay down the stretch.”
With the loss, the Western Pioneers are 1-4 in the conference and 13-5 overall.
During the first half, the Golden Norsemen fell behind 20-13 with 8:11 until halftime. Two 3-point field goals by Western’s Michael Tolbert and a trey and layup by Darron Johnson ignited the Pioneers offense in the first 12 minutes.
A 3-pointer by NEO freshman Dante Jefferson created the first lead by the Norsemen at 22-21 with 5:53 before intermission.
Two layups by veteran Gabriel Ferreria and a solo free throw by Tyjuan Johnson boosted the Golden Norse to a 29-25 halftime lead.
“When we figure out on the offensive end how to stop beating ourselves, we’ll be a really, really good basketball team,” Grover said. “We kept stopping them, stopping them and stopping them in the second half while hitting 13 of 19 free throw attempts to hold them at bay.”
The Golden Norse constructed 40-27 cushion at the 12:31 mark before sinking 11 of 12 free throws over a six-minute period to seal the victory.
Ferreria hit 4 of 5 at the charity stripe along with a 4 of 8 performance at the free throw line by Dante Jefferson during the outburst.
Kingsley Sam led all scorers with 15 total points for NEO while Jefferson scored 12, Ferreria 10, Johnson 7, Curhone Baldwin 4, Pedro Lopes 3, Arkel Williams 2, Justin Ford 2 and Morris Talbert 2.
Darron Johnson paced the Pioneers with 11 points.