SHAWNEE — Completing a sweep of the Women’s Division I Region II Tournament, the No. 1 seed Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Lady Norse won their third straight championship with a 76-55 victory over No. 2 seed Northern Oklahoma College-Enid here Saturday, March 10.
NEO (27-4) begins play in the Women’s Division I National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament March 19 at Lubbock (Texas) Christian College.
The NJCAA selection show for the 16-team tournament will be streamed live at 10:30 a.m., Monday on www.njcaatv.com.
“I knew coming into this game that if we could take away their ability to shoot 3-point shots, then it would be our game,” Lady Norse head
coach Jim Rowland said. “We didn’t do a very good job of that in the first half because they shot 11 times from behind the arc, but only made one.
“So at halftime, I told our team that we weren’t scrambling enough and we were giving up way too many second shots,” Rowland said. “Our team responded defensively in the last two quarters like they have all
While winning their ninth straight game in the regional tournament, the Lady Norse extended their current winning streak to 18 games.
Ranked No. 21 in the NJCAA national poll, the Lady Norse were a perfect 16-0 during play in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“Once again, our defense started our offense which has been the backbone of this team all season,” Rowland said. “Then, we stepped up and hit some big shots that kept them from climbing back into the game.
“Megan Jackson, Mikayla Shulanberger and Eneritz Larranga hit some big baskets,” Rowland said. “Of course, I could talk about Bethy (Mununga) all night long, but when it comes down to hitting big shots, these other girls really came through.”
NEO’s defensive effort was omnipresent from the opening tip-off as the Lady Jets were held to eight points during the first quarter.
NOC-Enid (27-6) was limited to 21 percent (4-of-19) from the field in the first 10 minutes.
Relying on Mununga’s shooting and rebounding ability, the Lady Norse received eight points and four rebounds from her to construct a 20-8 cushion entering the second quarter.
Neither team lit up the scoreboard during the second quarter as the Lady Jets outscored the Lady Norse 11-10 and trailed 30-19 at intermission. Andreah Pierce scored seven points for NOC-Enid in the quarter.
“They got a couple of back-door plays on us, but I think we frustrated them a lot because they couldn’t do what they wanted,” Rowland said.
“They love to drive to the rim and they love to shoot a lot of 3s, but our defense wouldn’t allow it.”
During the third quarter, NEO opened up a 51-35 margin as Shulanberger and Jackson combined for two 3-pointers each and Mununga contributed seven points.
A play indicative of NEO’s defensive intensity was three straight blocked shots by Jackson, Mununga and Mariam Gnanou on one play.
Larranga paced the Lady Norse offense in the fourth quarter with eight of her 13 points as NEO held a 25-20 advantage going down the stretch.
Mununga — named the most valuable player of the tournament — led all scorers with 23 points. She also had 13 rebounds, six assists, five steals and three blocked shots.
Jackson contributed 16 points to the Lady Norse offense while Schulanberger and Larranga added 13 each.
Gnanou scored nine points and Lidia Guiral contributed two.
The Lady Norse connected on 28 of 55, including 7 of 17 from the 3-point area, for 51 percent from the field and 13 of 25 for 52 percent at the free throw line.
Andreah Pierce paced the Lady Jets with 20 total points and seven rebounds.
NOC-Enid hit 22 of 67, including 4 of 18 from 3-point range, for 33 percent from the field. The Lady Jets sank 7 of 10 at the free throw line.
NEO held a 41-38 margin on the boards as Gnanou also collected 13 boards for the Lady Norse.
Gnanou tied an NEO single-game school
record with nine blocked shots.
Hatty Nawezhi had set the record against Northern College-Tonkawa on March 2, 2016.