MIAMI — After splitting two games in the Budke-Serna Thanksgiving Classic at Trinity Valley Community College last weekend, the No. 17 ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Lady Norse entertain Connors State College Returning home at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 28, in an Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup.
The three-time defending conference champion Lady Norse return to the friendly confines of the NEO Field House with a 5-3 season record.
Last season the Lady Norse won the OCAC title with a 15-1 mark.
Connors State enters conference play under interim head coach Jamie Fisher with a 5-4 season record after dropping a 74-59 decision last Wednesday to New Mexico Junior College of Hobbs at Warner.
Last season Fisher guided the Cowgirls to an 8-8 finish in the conference and 19-10 overall. Connors lost a 70-63 quarterfinal game to Redlands College in the Women’s Division I Region 2 Tournament at Shawnee.
“I expect them to come out and mix things up defensively,” Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “They’ll alternate between a little zone and a little man.
“They have a couple of players that are really good,” Rowland said. “One is a transfer from Howard College in Big Springs, Texas, who is averaging 15 points a game.
“We’ve got to make sure that we contain her (DeAuja Thompson, 6-0 from Columbus, Ohio),” Rowland said. “If we do that, I think we can get them in transition by getting some stops on the defensive end.”
After making the 425-mile trek across the Red River last Friday and Saturday, the Lady Norse turned in a “Jekyll and Hyde” performance.
Squaring off against Panola Junior College of Carthage, Texas, the Lady Norse were never in the game while sustaining an 84-41 drubbing at the hands of the Fillies.
Panola (7-0) opened up a 26-8 cushion in the first 10 minutes on 10 points each by Patience Okpe and Daria Eremeeva and two 3-pointers by Nowakowska.
The Fillies received six points each from Stefany Lourenco and Maryia Adashchyk and four points each from Okpe, Eremeeva and Nowakowska to construct an overwhelming 49-18 lead at halftime.
During the third and fourth quarters combined, the Fillies outscored the Lady Norse by a 35-24 margin.
“We started off real slow and got back on our heels,” Rowland said. “We would come down and get stops, but we couldn’t go down and score. Once we missed, they would go score.
“We had a lot of one-shot possessions and they would turn them into points at the other end,” Rowland said. “After a while, I really thought that we quit as a team because we didn’t compete.
“As a coach, you can take getting beat if the team is better than yours,” Rowland said. “But, Panola is not 43 points better than we are.”
Saturday proved to be another day as the Lady Norse rebounded with an 80-44 victory over the Lady Buffaloes of Arkansas Baptist College from Little Rock.
Individual player statistics for both games were not available at press time.
“After a little bit of a pep talk from coach Rowland, we came out and played much better the next game,” Rowland said. “We moved and found the open player a lot better and we knocked down shots.
“Defensively, we got up tight on them and didn’t allow them an open look at the basket,” Rowland said. “My main concern was whether or not we would compete.
“We did that and got a much more positive result,” Rowland said. “They realize that they just can’t walk on the floor and play, they have to show up and compete.
“Not only did we play a lot better as a team, but we did a much better job in transition,” Rowland said. “That really helped us offensively.”