YUMA, Ariz. — Outscoring Northeastern A&M 23-9 at the free throw line, the 18th-ranked Arizona Western College Matadors defeated the Golden Norsemen 77-65 Tuesday night in the fifth-annual Wells Fargo Bank Invitational Classic at “The Pit” on the campus of Arizona Western College.
With the loss coach Dustin Grover's Golden Norse are 9-5 on the season while his former team, the Matadors, won their 12th consecutive game and are 13-1 on the year.
Miami High School graduate Kelly Green, son of former NEO Golden Norse head coach Cletus Green, guided the Matadors to a 95-59 rout over Frank Phillips, Texas, on Monday to start the two-day classic.
The Golden Norsemen continue their road trip on Friday by playing in the two-day Jayhawk Shoot-Out on the campus of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.
The Norse start the Shoot-Out with a 9 a.m. clash against Allen County (Kan.) Community College (6-5) on the west court of Nellis Hall.
The Norsemen face Independence (Kan.) Community College (9-3) at 5 p.m. Saturday on the east court.
“We competed the entire game in a hostile environment,” Grover said. “In the end, we had too many turnovers (23) and too many personal fouls (25) to stay in the game.”
Paced by eight points each from Raphael Brown and Scott Forrest, along with four points from Phil Martin and two free throws by Jamell Cormier, the Golden Norsemen trailed by a 26-22 deficit at halftime.
The Matadors built their lead on four points each from Adonis Sousa, Zach Nelson, Andre Almeida, Zach Downing and Mitrell Clark, along with baskets by D'Angelo Scott, Michael Craig and Jason Smeathers.
“We went ahead by three at 48-45 midway through the second half,” Grover said. “But, we relaxed defensively and they put together a huge run that we couldn't ever recover from.”
Eight points by Martin and seven points each by Forrest and Brown, along with a basket by Coimbra, ignited the NEO run.
Fueled by eight points from the 6-9 Almeida and four points from Sousa, along with a breakaway layup by Nelson, the Matadors went on a 14-4 run during a six-minute period to build a 59-52 lead with 3:51 left in the game.
“Even though Phil (Martin) didn’t have a very good game, Raphael (Brown) was exceptional,” Grover said. “We just didn’t get any production out of our big guys inside.”
Martin led the Norse with 19 total points while Brown scored 16 and Forrest added 15.
Almeida tallied 20 points to lead the Matadors while Sousa and Downing added 11 each.