WARNER — Staving off a second half rally that created a 71-71 tie in regulation, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Lady Norse earned an 81-76 overtime victory Thursday, Feb. 1, against the Connors State Cowgirls before a large crowd in the Melvin Self Field House.
Returning home Monday, Feb. 5 for a 5:30 p.m. rematch with Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa, the Lady Norse are 9-0 in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference and 17-4 on the season.
The Lady Norse have won 44 straight home games and are in pursuit of the current school record of 71 games set from the 1986-87 season to 1993-94 season.
The Cowgirls are 4-5 in OCAC action and 10-12 overall.
Trailing 48-37 with 7:50 remaining, the Cowgirls went on a 15-5 run to slice the NEO lead to a point (53-52) with 1:22 remaining.
The game was then tied four times down the stretch before NEO scored seven unanswered points for a 69-65 lead with 55 seconds remaining.
DeAuja Thompson, who finished with 17 points, cut the Lady Norse lead to one point, 71-70, with 10 seconds left.
Both clubs took time outs to set up plays, but it was Thompson who drained a free throws with 5.6 seconds left to deadlock the game at 71.
Pushing the ball down the floor, the Lady Norse had a 4-foot shot bounce off the goal as the horn sounded.
NEO had an opportunity to win the game, but Eneritz Larranaga missed a shot at the buzzer.
That set the stage for NEO to dominate the overtime period.
The Cowgirls did not score for 4:30 of the five-minute extra period as the Lady Norse outscored Connors 10-5.
Bethy Mununga led the Lady Norse with 26 points. Mariam Gnanou added 19, Megan Jackson 14 and Larranga 13.
Sadie Carter led the Cowgirls scoring with 19 points, followed by Thompson’s 17, with Marcia Reed adding 12 and Lauren Godbold with 11.
The Lady Norse took advantage of solid defensive play in the first quarter to build a 29-23 margin.
Eight points each by Mununga and Gnanou inside the paint, along with five points each by Jackson and Larranaga and a 3-point field goal by Mikayla Shulanberger accounted for NEO’s first quarter points.
NEO’s defense completely stifled the Cowgirls in the second quarter as the Lady Norse carried a 41-32 advantage to the locker room at half.
NEO’s largest lead of the half was 11 points, 41-30, with 2:05 left in the second quarter
The twin towers of Gnauou (6-5) and Mununga (5-11) combined for four points each during the second quarter while Larranaga and Jackson sank two free throws each.
Behind six points each by Thompson and Carter and eight points off the bench from Godbold, Connors outscored NEO by a 20-12 margin in the third quarter to slice the deficit to 53-52 going into the final 10 minutes.
Mununga, who has recorded six double-doubles in the last seven games, led NEO with 23 rebounds as the Lady Norse held a 39-38 edge on the boards.
Mununga’s production was two short of the NEO women’s single-game rebounding record of 24 set by Cathy Snipes set against Eastern State on Feb. 3, 1988.
Thompson paced the Cowgirls with 11 rebounds.
Larranga also recorded a double-double for NEO with 11 assists, which was five short of breaking the Lady Norse single-game assists record of 15 set by Gail Lashley against Oklahoma City Southwestern on Dec. 1, 1978.