Sophomores Nolisha Markham and Skye Rees combined for three points in the final three seconds to rally the 29th-ranked Northeastern A&M Lady Norse to a 62-59 victory Monday night over Carl Albert State College in the NEO Fieldhouse.
With the victory, coach Jim Rowland’s Lady Norse reached the 20-win plateau for the 11th straight year with a 20-6 record. The Lady Norse are 4-2 in the Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference.
The Lady Norse conclude the home portion of the regular season Thursday by hosting the Eastern State College Lady Mountaineers at 6 p.m.
The four sophomore members of the Lady Norse will receive special recognition during the WBCA (Women’s Basketball Coaches Association) Pink Zone Night.
Coach Jeff Tadtman’s Lady Vikings slip to 2-3 in the Bi-State East and 17-9 overall.
With the score tied a 59-59, Markham (5-10 of Tulsa) took an inbounds pass from Rees and hit a short jump shot in the free throw lane with three seconds left in the game.
After Carl Albert turned the ball over on the inbounds play, Rees (6-2 of Melbourne, Australia) was fouled and sank the first of two free throws with just two ticks left on the clock to give the Lady Norse a three-point lead.
“We never got in a flow in the first half,” Rowland said. “We came out and didn’t establish any consistency on offense.
“They had Lakyn (Garrison), the second leading scorer in the nation (averaging 27.9 points per game), and she comes out and hit a three to start the game,” Rowland said. “We didn’t guard her very well the first half, but we did a better job the second half.”
Along with Garrison’s 3-pointer, the Lady Vikings received two free throws from her, along with baskets by Ricki Wolfe, Bojana Dimitrov and Jordan Vines, to grab an 11-5 lead in the first five minutes.
Seven straight points by Markham, along with a 3-pointer by Rees, enabled the Lady Norse to trail 18-15 midway through the first half.
Four points each by Markham and Jolena Cerina, along with 3-pointers by Megan Fraley and Kalli Bassett, rallied NEO to a 29-29 tie with 2:57 before halftime.
Wolfe connected on a 3-point field goal and Aleksandra Miletic scored on a layup as the Lady Vikings carried a 34-33 lead to the locker room at intermission.
“I was upset at halftime because I thought we weren’t executing on offense,” Rowland said. “We were shooting ourselves in the foot with too many turnovers and not playing together.”
Just as she did to start the game, Garrison sank a 3-pointer to start the second half for Carl Albert.
A layup by Garrison and five straight points by Dimitrov propelled the Lady Vikings to a 44-37 cushion in the first five minutes of the second half.
Fraley hit a 3-pointer and Ashley Mekeel and Rees added layups to create a 44-44 tie with 13:03 left in the game.
“Once I put Ashley in the game, she adds another dimension because she can take it to the basket,” Rowland said. “And she did a great job of defensing Garrison the remainder of the game.”
Three consecutive 3-pointers by Bassett and a layup by Rees boosted the Lady Norse to a 55-49 margin with 5:21 showing on the clock.
Trailing 58-51 the Lady Vikings received three consecutive layups by Garrison and two free throws by Jenny Beshoner to forge a 59-59 tie with 1:24 left in the game.
Rees led all scorers with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Bassett contributed 12 for the Lady Norse.
Garrison paced Carl Albert with 18 points and Dimitrov added 15 points and nine rebounds.