Returning to the friendly confines of the NEO Fieldhouse after an exhaustive seven-game road trip, Northeastern A&M’s Lady Norse entertain the Lady Aggies of Murray State College at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Although the 36-day, seven-game junket was long for coach Jim Rowland’s Lady Norse, NEO won six of the seven games and are 9-6 on the season.
After cruising to a 79-54 victory over Carl Albert State College on Monday in Poteau, the Lady Norse are 3-2 in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Lady Norse will conclude a brief two-game homestand next Monday by hosting Eastern State College at 6 p.m. in the NEO Fieldhouse.
Interim head coach Mark Hamilton has guided the Murray State Lady Aggies to a 13-4 season mark and a 4-1 conference record.
Hamilton replaced Randy Nichols, who resigned unexpectedly just before Christmas break.
The Lady Aggies rolled over the Seminole Belles 90-76 last Monday in Tishomingo and have won four of their last five games.
Last season the Lady Aggies finished third in the Western Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference with a 3-3 record.
Murray State dropped an 86-53 decision to Connors State College in the first round of the Region II Tournament to finish 8-21 on the season.
During the two-game regular season series last year, the Lady Norse posted an 80-69 win over the Lady Aggies in Miami before posting an 86-53 victory in Tishomingo.
“All the coaches around the league knows that this isn’t the Murray State team of old,” Rowland said. “Not only do they have six sophomores on their 16-player roster, but they have some talent.
“They also have been gaining confidence as the seasons gone along,” Rowland said. “This program has been totally revamped and these kids play hard for a full 60 minutes.”
Among their seven 6-foot players, the Lady Aggies have three from Melbourne, Australia.
Freshmen Shea Bowden and Ashton Pittman along with sophomore Kashei Hopkins will start at guards for NEO.
Point guard Bowden (5-4 of Oklahoma City Millwood) leads the Lady Norse in scoring with a 14.1 average and with 41 assists. She has made 23 steals.
Pittman (5-8 of Washington, Okla.) averages 10.1 points with 15 assists and 19 steals.
Hopkins (5-7 of Rockwall, Va.) is scoring 5.1 points per game while recording 22 assists and 18 steals.
Freshman Ashley Jordan and veteran Jelena Cerina will patrol the inside for the Lady Norse.
Jordan (5-11 of San Antonio, Texas) has a 2.6 scoring mark and a 6.2 rebounding average.
Cerina (6-5 of Vrsac, Serbia) leads NEO with a 10.3 rebounding average and ranks 22nd in the nation in rebounding while scoring 12.6 points per game.
She also has 28 blocked shots to rank 20th nationally.