MIAMI — A 10-3 stretch run gave Northeastern Oklahoma A&M some breathing room during an 80-73 win over Western State College here Thursday, Feb. 15.
The Pioneers to within a point, 68-67 with 2:56 remaining, but David Thornton knocked down a pair of free throws to kick in NEO’s stretch run.
“We closed out well,” Golden Norse coach Dustin Grover said. “The biggest stretch that was not good basketball for us was the beginning of the second half until about the 10-minute mark. We struggled offensively and didn’t do as well as we had in the first half.”
The Norse carried a 41-33 lead into the break, but Western rallied to go up 60-59 with 7:22 remaining.
NEO regained the lead for good 16 seconds later.
“Probably the best we did defensively was to hold their leading scorer (Darron Johnson) to 19,” Grover said. “He was averaging 26 on the year. I am proud of our effort there. They hurt us inside on several possessions in the second half. From the perimeter, we did a really good job, forcing them to make tough shots.”
David Thornton was NEO’s leading scorer with 23 points.
“One thing that hurts us at times in pulling away is not having a guy that we are consistently depending on to score,” Grover said. “We are kind of a ‘score by committee’ so not having a ‘go-to’ hurts us especially down the stretch in games. We’ve had some games where different guys have stepped up, especially getting to the free throw line. “
This was the eighth time the Norse have had a different high-point scorer in a game.
Also hitting double figures were Kyle Lukasiewicz with 20 (14 coming in first half) and Ravel Moody.
Others with points for the Golden Norse were Valentin Van Puttin, who added six, Tyjuan Johnson and Dylan Van Eyke with five each, Cedrick Ward with four and Thais Montgomery and Jeremiah Morris, two each.
Jeshon Jones added 15 points for the Pioneers.
The Norse are idle until Thursday, Feb. 22, when they close out the home portion of the schedule against Northern Oklahoma-Enid.