SHAWNEE — For the second straight year, the 10th-ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M women will be playing for a berth in the NJCAA national tournament.
The Lady Norse nabbed an 87-56 victory over Redlands Community College in the semifinals of the Region 2 tournament here.
They face Northern Oklahoma College-Enid at 4 p.m. Saturday in the finals.
The Lady Jets topped Murray State in the other semifinal game.
The winner moves on to the national tournament, which will be later this month in Lubbock, Texas.
NEO set the tone of Friday’s game early, breaking out to a 25-6 lead in the first period.
The Lady Norse led by as many as 36 points in the second quarter.
“We had a great first half,” NEO coach Jim Rowland said. “I subbed out a little bit and they went on an 11-something run. But that’s OK because I thought our kids came out firing on all cylinders in that first half.”
It was 52-28 at the break and the Lady Norse (27-2) held a 16-15 edge in the third frame.
“I knew the second half was going to be different. I knew they would make some adjustments and shots would start falling for them and we weren’t going to hit from the outside,” Rowland said.
As a result, he opted to work the ball inside to Hatty Nawezhi and Sara Boric.
“We really shot well in the first half and I knew we would get cold from out there and we really started getting some stuff from in the paint,” Rowland said.
Five of the eight players who scored in the game reached double figures, including Nawezhi, who had her 15th double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Boric added 13 points.
Maria Delgado had a team-high 17 points, followed by Jennah Coffman with 14 and Mariah Green and Sara Boric with 13 each.
Others scoring for the Lady Norse were Courtney Condit, seven, and Kamry Orr and Mikayla Shulanberger, six each.
“I thought overall our kids really played hard … now we’re just looking forward to tomorrow,” Rowland said.
Lexus Halfred had 14 points and Shamika Smith added 12 for the Lady Cougars, who finish 17-12.