MIAMI — Dustin Grover admits his Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Golden Norsemen would not be getting any style points in Thursday night’s game against arch rival Connors State College
But they got what counted: a wild 54-51 Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference victory at the NEO Field House.
“We may make it ugly, but we defend and hopefully make enough plays offensively to win the game,” Grover said. “We’re not a style team by any stretch.”
Up by two with just seconds remaining, the Golden Norsemen had to withstand a series of shots by Connors — with two being blocked.
Bill Muse Jr. — son of the Cowboys’ coach — took a pass from Adarius Avery, but Kingsley Sam blocked his shot.
Muse was able to get the ball back with 13 seconds remaining. The Cowboys worked the ball inside to Daniel DeCosta, but Gabriel Ferreira blocked his shot.
“That last defensive possession was big time,” Grover said. “It was typical NEO-Connors. It’s amazing, isn’t it?”
The win avenged a 70-56 loss to the Cowboys in Warner on Nov. 29.
The Cowboys still hold a share of the lead in the OCAC with Northern-Tonkawa after the Mavs suffered a 95-94 loss to Western State.
The wheels were wobbling for the Norse (13-9, 5-4) early in the game as Connors State broke out to a 17-5 lead.
“Everyone in the gym probably sold us off after the first seven minutes because we didn’t look like we could score,” Grover said. “We knuckled down defensively and did what we had to do. That’s what we do.”
But the Norsemen, who trailed by three at the break, used a game-turning 19-5 salvo to open up a 45-33 advantage 11 minutes into the second half.
The ride got bumpy after that as Connors State ran off 10 straight to slash a 12-point lead down to two with 5:22 remaining.
The Norse used a 9-6 advantage down the stretch to hold off the visitors and set the stage for the crazy finish.
“We dug it out,” Grover said. “They made the run on us there and I didn’t like the way we did the run, but I do like the way we recovered.
Ferreira — who had been sick earlier in the week — had a team-high 15 points and a co-team-high five rebounds over 33 minutes.
Curhone Baldwin chipped in with 10 points off the bench, an area where the Norsemen held a huge 25-6 advantage.
Sam and Morris Talbert had eight each for NEO, followed by Arkel Williams with four, Justin Ford with three and Tyjuan Johnson, Jalyn McKoy and Pedro Lopes with two each.
Avery had 18 points and Muse added 12 for the Cowboys.