Excessive turnovers and a porous defense caused the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen to dropped a 79-76 decision in overtime Thursday night in the NEO Fieldhouse to Murray State College.
While snapping a three-game winning streak, coach Dustin Grover's Golden Norse are 12-6 on the season and 4-2 in the OCAC. The Murray State Aggies are 10-8 on the year and 4-2 in the conference.
Remaining at home Monday, the Norsemen entertain Eastern State College in an 8 p.m. conference game.
“The key to this game were the facts that we had way too many turnovers (21 to 9) and then they took 15 more shots than we did (71 to 56),” Grover said. “They basically just out-executed us late in the game and in the overtime.”
Early in the first six minutes of the game, it appeared that the Golden Norsemen were going to manhandle the seven-member Aggies squad.
Eight points by Phil Martin and five by Andre Coimbra, along with a 3-pointer by Scott Forrest, enabled NEO to build a 16-8 margin.
Over the next five minutes, the teams traded baskets like two boxers sparring with the Norse maintaining a 25-17 cushion. Four points by Martin and a 3-pointer by Jamell Cormier, along with a slam dunk by Brandon Edwards, supplied the NEO scoring.
A long 3-pointer and two regular field goals by Bayshon Payne, along with a trey by James Harris, rallied the Aggies to a 27-27 tie with 4:49 until halftime.
Forrest connected on another 3-pointer and Coimbra sank two free throws while Rodrigo Freitas hit a short jump shot as the Golden Norse carried a precarious 34-33 lead to the locker room at half.
During the initial 10 minutes of the second half, Martin scored 11 points and Raphael Brown added nine, along with another 3-pointer by Forrest, to give NEO a 57-50 cushion.
“At this point, I thought we were ready to step on the gas and pull away from them,” Grover said. “But, they did a great job of never giving up and climbing back into the game.”
Four straight points by Laron Buggs and a 3-pointer by Harris produced a 57-57 tie with 9:08 left in the game.
Once again, the Golden Norse offense clicked on back-to-back 3-pointers by Forrest and Cormier, along with a layup by Coimbra, to give NEO a 65-59 advantage with 5:57 remaining in regulation.
Over the next four minutes, the Norsemen clung to a 72-69 lead before Murray State's Harris hit a 3-pointer along the baseline with 57 seconds left to tie the game at 72-all.
“We took 25 shots down the stretch, but we failed to execute on the final possession to provide us with a win,” Grover said. “We were in a situation where we didn't want to have to call a timeout because we had a play in place, we just didn't get it done.”
During the five-minute overtime period, Harris sank a 3-pointer and two free throws while Craig Murray hit a layup as the Aggies were down to five players after both Payne and Buggs fouled out.
Field goals by Brown and Coimbra accounted for NEO's overtime points while Brown missed two free throws and a driving layup at the buzzer.
Martin paced the Golden Norse with 24 points while Forrest had 15 and Brown and Coimbra scored 12 each.
The Norsemen connected on 28 of 56, (50 percent) from the field, including 9 of 19 on 3-pointers, and 11 of 18 (61 percent) at the free throw line.
Harris matched Martin's 24-point production to lead the Aggies while June Carter added 19. Payne and Buggs had 13 each.
The Aggies sank 27 of 71 (38 percent) from the field, including 11 of 29 from 3-point range, and 14 of 20 at the line for 70 per cent.
Coimbra crashed the boards for 10 rebounds as the Golden Norsemen held a huge 50-29 advantage on the boards. Buggs grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Aggies.
Murray State College (10-8, 4-2)
Harris 7 3-4 24, Carter 8 2-5 19, Payne 4 3-4 13, Buggs 4 4-4 13, Godwin 3 2-3 8, Murray 1 0-0 2, Hawkins 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 14-20 79.
Northeastern A&M (12-6, 4-2)
Martin 9 5-5 24, Forrest 5 0-0 15, Brown 6 0-2 12, Coimbra 4 3-3 12, Cormier 2 2-6 8, Freitas 1 1-2 3, Edwards 1 0-0 2, Fisher 0 0-0 0, Ross 0 0-0 0, Fonseca 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 11-18 76.
Halftime — NEO 33, MSC 33, Regulation — NEO 72, MSC 72, Overtime — MSC 7, NEO 4. 3-point goals — MSC 11-29 (Harris 7-12, Payne 2-4, Carter 1-2, Buggs 1-4, Hawkins 0-1, Murray 0-2, Godwin 0-4), NEO 9-19 (Forrest 5-10, Cormier 2-5, Coimbra 1-1, Martin 1-3). Rebounds — MSC 29 (Buggs 7), NEO 50 (Coimbra 10). Assists — MSC 4 (Harris 2, Buggs 2), NEO 20 (Brown 9). Steals — MSC 5 (Godwin 3), NEO 4 (Cormier 2). Blocked shots — MSC 3 (Carter 3), NEO 6 (Coimbra 5). Turnovers — MSC 9, NEO 24. Total fouls — MSC 17, NEO 20. Fouled out — Buggs, Payne.