HUTCHINSON, Kan. - Excessive turnovers early and a defensive lapse late cost Northeastern A&M as the Golden Norsemen suffered a 67-61 loss Thursday night to Seward County, Kan., in the second round of the Men’s Division I NJCAA National Tournament.
Despite the fact that the Kansas State Wildcats were on television in an NCAA first-round game, more than 4,500 fans were on hand at the Hutchinson Sports Arena to support the Seward County Saints from Liberal, Kan.
Coach Dustin Grover’s Golden Norsemen (27-8) face Indian Hills of Ottumwa, Iowa, in a 3 p.m. elimination game today.
The Indian Hills Warriors (27-9) sustained a 66-61 loss to coach Steve Green’s South Plains Texans in the final game Thursday night.
Winner of the NEO-Indian Hills game will play Eastern Arizona at 2 p.m. Saturday in the fifth-place game.
Eastern Arizona advanced with a 28-6 record following a 70-50 win over Southeastern Illinois Thursday afternoon.
“Obviously I was very disappointed with the outcome of this game,” Grover said. “I thought we controlled most of the game and defensively we played very well.
“We just didn’t do the things we needed to do offensively to win the game,” Grover said. “We had a stretch where we had seven straight turnovers in the first half on seven straight possessions.
“Our perimeter shots weren’t falling which caused us to force the basketball,” Grover said. “That led to too many turnovers.”
After two free throws by Dominique Gaines gave NEO the lead in the first minute of the game, the Saints (31-5) received 3-point field goals by Reggie Chamberlain and Nick Burns, along with a solo free throw by Bryson Hampton, to grab a 7-2 lead with 15:44 until halftime.
Outscoring the Saints 11-5 over the next five minutes, the Golden Norse fashioned a 13-12 lead. Three free throws by Chase Elliott, along with field goals by Reggie Mathis and Tulio Cobos as well as two free throws by Cicero Gonzaga and one each by Gaines and Lionel Green, ignited the run.
Five straight points by Burns boosted the Saints to a 17-13 lead with 8:29 before half.
Back-to-back layups by Mathis and Gaines created a 17-17 tie at the 7:33 juncture.
Seven points by Mathis and a monster dunk by Gaines propelled NEO to a 26-22 advantage with 4:05 until intermission.
Two free throws and a putback by Kenneth Clayton, along with a field goal by Elliott, enabled the Norsemen to carry a 31-30 lead to the locker room at halftime.
After hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, the Saints received treys from Burns and Darko Cohadarevic to build a 36-31 margin in the first two minutes of the second half.
Gaines riddled the Seward defense for seven points and Mathis, Clayton and Elliott added two points each to provide the Norsemen with a 44-40 lead with 13:28 left on the clock.
A field goal and free throw by Mathis and a layup by Cobos allowed the Norse to maintain a 49-44 margin with 9:19 remaining in the game.
Seward County responded with a 3-pointer by Donald Dixon and two free throws by Chamberlain to forge a 49-49 tie with 8:09 showing on the scoreboard.
Consecutive field goals by Clayton and a breakaway layup by Gaines gave NEO a 55-49 cushion with 6:08 left in the game.
“We had a period where we missed three or four shots in close that might have put the game away,” Grover said. “The end result was that we put too much pressure on our defense for too long of a time.”
Four points each by Chamberlain and Dixon along with a 3-pointer by Mendes rallied the Saints to a 60-55 lead with 1:21 remaining.
Over the final minute the Norsemen received four points from Gaines and a field goal by Clayton while the Saints sank 6 of 8 free throw attempts to seal the victory.
Gaines led all scorers with 19 points for the Golden Norse while Mathis contributed 16.
Burns paced the Saints with 15 points, along with 13 from Chamberlain and 11 each from Dixon and Williams.
Green grabbed 10 rebounds to give the Norsemen a 38-35 edge on the boards. Williams pulled down nine rebounds to lead the Saints.
SEWARD COUNTY, KAN. 67,NORTHEASTERN A&M 61
Seward County, Kan. (31-5) — 67, Northeastern A&M 61 Seward County (31-5) - Burns 6-11 0-1 15, Chamberlain 3-11 6-6 13, Dixon 4-6 1-3 11, Williams 3-12 5-5 11, Cohadarevic 2-2 4-4 9, Mendes 2-6 0-0 5, Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Hampton 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 21-51 17-21 67.
Northeastern A&M (27-8) — Gaines 7-19 5-6 19, Mathis 7-13 1-4 16, Clayton 3-5 3-3 9, Elliott 1-2 5-6 7, Green 1-5 2-8 4, Cobos 2-5 0-0 4, Gonzaga 0-6 2-3 2. Totals 21-55 18-30 61.
Halftime — NEO 31, SCC 30. 3-point goals — SCC 8-25 (Burns 3-6, Dixon 2-3, Cohadarevic 1-1, Mendes 1-5, Chamberlain 1-7, Williams 0-1, Jones 0-2), NEO 1-12 (Mathis 1-3, Green 0-1, Gonzaga 0-3, Gaines 0-5). Rebounds — SCC 35 (Williams 9), NEO 38 (Green 10). Assists — SCC 11 (Cohadarevic 3), NEO 3 (Green, Clayton, Cobos). Steals — SCC 11 (Williams 3), NEO 11 (Green 4). Blocked shots — SCC 4 (Hampton 2), NEO 1 (Mathis). Turnovers — SCC 24, NEO 25. Total fouls — SCC 23, NEO 21. Fouled out — Hampton, Williams. Technical fouls — Cohadarevic.