SHAWNEE — Extending their current winning streak to eight games with an 89-80 victory Thursday, March 8 over Western State College, No. 3 seed Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College advances to the Men's Division I Region II Tournament semifinals.
The Golden Norsemen carry a 21-8 season record into the 8 p.m. semifinal Friday, March 9 with Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa.
The No. 2 seeded Mavericks (25-7) advanced after eliminating No. 7 seed Redlands College (14-18) by an 87-64 in another quarterfinal game Thursday.
"We split the regular season series with them," Golden Norse head coach Dustin Grover said. "I think the key to beating them is to eliminate their energy plays on offense.
"We've got to take away their runs because they typically like to string two or three baskets together. If we can cut down our turnovers and hits some 3-pointers, then I think we can definitely be there at the end."
When the two met on Nov. 30 in Tonkawa, the Mavericks came away with a 66-53 victory. Anselm Uzuebunem led Tonkawa with 16 points while Dylan Van Eyck led NEO with 16 points.
Visiting the NEO Field House on Feb. 5, NEO snapped a 25-25 tie at halftime en route to a 63-54 victory. Tyjuan Johnson came off the Golden Norse bench to score 17 points while Chris Hamel led the Mavericks with 12 points.
The 6-9 Van Eyck has missed the last three NEO games with a sprained ankle. His availability is still questionable.
"I thought we didn't do a good job with ball pressure on defense against Western," Grover said. "We didn't control the boards at either end that allowed them to abuse us inside.
"Without Van Eyck in the middle of our zone defense, we just didn't go get the ball and gain possession," Grover said. "Our lineup is pretty small without him (Van Eyck) and we have to go fight and claw to get a board."
The Norsemen surrendered 17 offensive rebounds to Western.
"We got Western to miss some shots, we just didn't go get a rebound," Grover said. "We've got to make some mental adjustments to beat Tonkawa."
Ravel Moody led the Golden Norsemen with 19 points while Jeremiah Morris came off the bench to produce 16 points.
"A lot of people stepped up and made plays for us," Grover said. "We have to have those contributions if we are going to advance."
Ranked No. 13 in the nation, defending regional champion and No. 1 seed Connors State College (27-3) advanced to the semifinals following a 108-86 victory over No. 8 seed Eastern State College (15-13).
Connors will face the Seminole State-Northern Oklahoma-Enid winner in Friday's 6 p.m. semifinal. The No. 4 seed Seminole Trojans are 20-9 on the year while the No. 5 seed NOC-Enid Jets are 15-13 on the season.
The championship game tips off at 4 p.m. Saturday.