SHAWNEE — The No. 21 ranked and top-seeded Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Lady Norse face Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa at 1 p.m. Friday, March 9, in the semifinals of the Region II basketball tournament here.
NEO defeated No. 8 seed Arkansas Baptist College of Little Rock, 91-42 Wednesday, in the first round.
That was the seventh straight Region II tournament win over the last three years for the Lady Norse.
While picking up their 17th straight victory, the three-time defending regional champion Lady Norse enter the semifinals with a 25-4 season mark.
The No. 4 seed Lady Mavericks (13-15) eliminated No. 5 seed Redlands Community College 80-69 on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
"Tonkawa is a relentless, scrappy team," Rowland said. "They're going to play hard and do whatever it takes to beat us.
"Defensively, they will 2-2-1 us with the full court press and they'll man us and zone us," Rowland said. "They are just a determined team and they won't quit."
No. 2 seed Northern Oklahoma College-Enid eliminated No. 7 seed Connors State College 85-56 in another quarterfinal game.
The Lady Jets (27-5) face third-seedd Seminole State College at 3 p.m. Friday in the other semifinal matchup.
The Belles improved to 13-15 with a 77-75 win over No. 6 seed Murray State College (10-19) in Wednesday's last quarterfinal game.
The Women's Division I Region II championship game will tipoff at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Against Arkansas Baptist, all five of the Lady Norse starters finished the game in double figures.
The Lady Norse jumped out to a 21-10 advantage in the first quarter.
During the second 10 minutes, NEO tallied 28 points to carry a 49-20 cushion to the locker room at intermission.
NEO applied defensive clamps in the third quarter by outscoring the Lady Buffs 24-9. The Lady Norse held a 73-29 lead going into the fourth quarter.
"Our energy level to start the game fueled our defense which was the key to our victory," Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. "Defense has been our back bone all year long and it really showed from the outset of this game.
"Once we came out and took control with our defense, the offense came around and we never looked back," Rowland said. "We kept our energy up the whole game at both ends of the court."
Arkansas Baptist (9-22) scored 13 points in the final 10 minutes, but the Lady Norse put 18 points on the scoreboard.
"I told the girls to not relax and to finish the game," Rowland said. "I told them to stay locked in and they did a good job."
Sophomore point guard Eneritz Larranaga turned in her second triple-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.
"Eneritz really played well against Tonkawa," Rowland said. "We always want Beth (Mununga) to play well, but when your point guard turns in a triple-double that's big."
The 5-11 Mununga finished with a double-double by scoring a game-high 28 points with 13 rebounds.
Veteran center Marium Ganou also had a double-double for NEO with 18 points and 18 rebounds while guard Megan Jackson added 15 points, Mikayla Schulanberger 10 and Amary Weary four.
Contibuting to NEO's offensive success was the fact that the Lady Norse sank 23 of 27 free throw attempts.