Concluding a brief two-game homestand, Northeastern A&M’s Golden Norsemen entertain the Eastern State College Mountaineers Monday at 8 p.m., in the NEO Fieldhouse.
After dropping a tough 79-76 decision in overtime last Thursday to Murray State College, coach Dustin Grover’s Golden Norse are 4-2 in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference and 12-6 on the season.
“We’re in one of those patterns where we win three and lose one,” Grover said. “I’ve told our players that great basketball teams find a way to win games, both the one’s they’re supposed to and the one’s they’re not.
“We didn’t play well against Murray State and it cost us,” Grover said. “This is another one of those games, where on paper we should win, but we’ve got to find a way.”
Second-year head coach Brenton Duncan’s Mountaineers are struggling in every aspect of their game.
Despite having five sophomores on their roster, the Mountaineers are winless at 0-15 on the season and 0-6 in the OCAC. Last Thursday, the Mountaineers suffered a 74-48 loss to Carl Albert State College in Wilburton.
“This is a team that scares you as a coach because you know they can’t go winless for ever,” Grover said. “We’re going to have to play a full 40 minutes because they’ve got some scorers.”
Last year the Mountaineers finished fifth in the now-defunct Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference with a 1-7 record and 5-20 overall.
NEO swept the two-game regular season series by posting an 81-66 win in Wilburton before gaining an 89-59 victory in Miami.
“We’ve got some people that were in our rotation earlier in the year that aren’t playing very well,” Grover said. “That caused our rotation to be off against Murray State.
“We’ve been trying to give them a chance to play, but we just aren’t going to play them any more,” Grover said. “It’s time for us to step up and find ways to win no matter who the competition is.”
Veteran guard Phil Martin continues to lead the Golden Norse in scoring with a 25-point average. Martin (6-4 of Staten Island, N.Y.) is averaging 5.6 rebounds with 38 assists and 24 steals.
Expected to start in the Mountaineers back court are sophomores Willie Hansboro (6-2 of Arkansas City, Kan.) and Captain Smith (6-0 of Earlsboro, Okla.) along with freshman Mike Soap (6-4 of Tahlequah).
Freshmen Laron Westbrooke (6-6 of Jefferson City, Mo.) and Andrew Rice (6-9 of Mansfield, Ohio) start in the Eastern front court.
The Golden Norsemen return to the road Wednesday with an 8 p.m. OCAC confrontation with Western State College in Altus.