Unable to climb out of an early hole, Northeastern A&M’s Lady Norse suffered a 68-63 loss Saturday afternoon to the 7th ranked University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Lady Lions in the NEO Fieldhouse.

Coach Jim Rowland’s Lady Norse carry a 17-5 season record and a 1-1 mark in the Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference to Wilburton on Monday for a 6 p.m. league game with Eastern State College.

With the victory coach Louis Whorton’s Lady Lions are 1-1 in the Bi-State East and 21-2 overall.

“I’m proud of the way our kids fought back today,” Rowland said. “We knew that if we fell behind early it would be a tough go and that’s exactly what happened to us.”

The Lady Lions reeled off 10 straight points in the first four minutes on five points by Marisha Brown, a 3-pointer by Sheena Johnson and a field goal by Vasha Sanders.

Five straight points by Tracy Parsons and a layup by Monica Williams increased the Lady Lions lead to 17-4 with 12:13 left in the first half.

A 3-pointer by Megan Fraley along with baskets by Ashley Mekeel. Jelena Cerina and Skye Rees rallied the Lady Norse to a 20-13 deficit with 8:28 until halftime.

Fraley hit a 3-pointer and a layup while Nolisha Markham added four points and Rees scored on a putback to create a 27-24 deficit at the 2:51

juncture.

Brown canned a 3-pointer and added a break-away layup and Williams scored on a putback to give the Lady Lions a 34-29 lead going into the locker room at half.

Consecutive field goals by Brittany Woodard and Rees trimmed the deficit for NEO to 34-33 in the first two minutes of the second half.

Another 3-pointer and a regular field goal by Brown and two free throws by Johnson boosted UAFS to a 41-36 lead with 15:19 left in the game.

Over the next 10 minutes the Lady Lions maintained a 10-point lead at 60-50 on four points each by Brown, Williams, Ashley Aronald and Dannah Kemp along with baskets from Parsons and Johnson.

Mckeel nailed a 3-pointer and Fraley added a conventional basket-and-one while Rees scored on a layup to rally the Lady Norse to a 62-60 margin with 2:11 showing on the clock.

Over the last two minutes Brown, Sanders and Johnson each sank two free throws sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Rees to seal the victory.

Fraley led all scorers with 20 total points while Rees contributed 19 for the Lady Norse.

The Lady Norse connected on 22 of 54 (41 percent) from the field, including 5 of 12 from 3-point range, while hitting 14 of 16 (88 percent) from the free throw line.

Brown paced the Lady Lions with 18 points while Williams added 11 and Johnson scored 10.

UAFS hit 24 of 63 (38 percent) from the field, including 7 of 22 from the 3-point arch, and 13 of 16 (81 percent) at the free throw line.

Markham grabbed 10 rebounds to give the Lady Norse a 40-34 advantage on the boards. Brown collected five rebounds to lead the Lady Lions.