MIAMI — The second home loss of the season for the Northeastern A&M Lady Norse couldn’t have come at a worse time.
NEO’s 71-62 loss to Western Oklahoma State College on Monday, Feb. 24 makes the regular season finale at Eastern Oklahoma State College Thursday night critical for its playoff plans.
“That just made it real interesting: we had to win one of the two and now we go down to a tough environment at Eastern,” Lady Norse coach Jim Rowland said. “There’s a big possibility we could be playing on Monday at our place.”
The Lady Pioneers’ win, coupled with a 70-64 loss to Murray on Monday, leaves NEO, Western and Northern Oklahoma-Enid in a three-way tie at 8-7.
Western won both games against NEO, including 64-62 at El Reno on Jan. 22.
“We have to find a way to win that game on Thursday,” Rowland said.
Should the worst happen, the Lady Norse would host Northern Oklahoma State-Tonkawa (0-15) on Monday.
“There’s always a lot of emotions on Sophomore Night. It can go one way or the other on you: it can either bring you down or you are really, really excited about it,” Rowland said. “I didn’t feel that tonight with them. There was no electricity, no excitement, no energy.”
The loss was just the second at home this season for the Lady Norse (13-12), the other coming against conference champ Redlands, 64-58 on Jan. 16.
NEO was playing from behind virtually the entire night.
It trailed 20-14 after one, but rallied for a 30-29 lead with 1:32 left in the half on a bucket by Dariann Myles.
However, a jumper by Chiawna Johnson less than a minute later made it 31-30 at the break.
Two free throws each by Myles and Eliska Stebetakova forget a 36-call tie, but Emmy Cobb buried a 3 and the Pioneers never trailed after that.
Western held 24-19 and 16-13 advantages in the third and fourth quarters.
“I credit them,” Rowland said. “They answered it. They are playing to stay out of the play-in game as well. I felt they had a little more energy than we did. We battled uphill all night long.
The Lady Pioneers got a huge boost offensively when Dejahnar Chatman — who normally scores 5.1 points a game — came off the bench and had 14.
“That can’t happen — you just don’t allow that,” Rowland said.
Western held a 32-31 edge in rebounding, but 28 came on the defensive end.
Twelve of NEO’s rebounds were on the offensive end, but had only 13 second-chance points.
The Lady Norse shot only 32.8% from the field, connecting on only 21 of 64 attempts.
“You can’t shoot 32% and expect to win,” Rowland said.
NEO downed only six of 25 shots from behind the 3-point line.
Ivvana Murillo had her sixth double double of the season for NEO, scoring a team-high20 while grabbing 11 rebounds.
Others with points for the Lady Norse were Koreea Kirksey and Myles, nine each; Kiarra Brooks, seven; Stebetakova, six; Gabriela Chivata, five; Emily McAdams, three; Kine Diop, two, and Kaitlyn Benge, one.
Chatman was one of four players in double figures for Western.
Jamata Levy tallied 20, Tabitha Armstrong had 11 and Delecia Brown contributed 10.