MIAMI — It is uncharted waters for the Northeastern A&M women.
The winner of numerous Region II Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament championships, the Lady Norse are facing a play-in game Monday, March 2 against Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa.
That’s the first time in the Jim Rowland era and the first time in recent memory that the Lady Norse have been placed in this precarious position.
“There’s a first time for everything,” Lady Norse coach Jim Rowland said. “It really is uncharted waters for us. But I keep looking back at the whole season it’s just what it is. These kids have fought; they have worked hard and have done what I have asked of them. Sometimes, it just not meant to be.
“We are just going to keep working. That’s all we can do. Whatever the outcome is on Monday, we will deal with it. I know these kids want to win.”
A 63-59 loss to Eastern Oklahoma State College relegated NEO to the No. 7 seed for Region II play.
The game will be at 6 p.m. at the NEO Field House.
If the Lady Norse win, they would see Eastern again at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 4 in a first-round game at Shawnee.
“They know they’ve still got a good shot at getting into the region tournament,” Rowland said. “They want that (a rematch). They know they can beat them.”
Connors State College (6-10, 19-11) and Arkansas Baptist (0-0, 6-19) square off in the other play-in game Monday night.
That winner faces No. 1 seed Redlands (12-4, 23-5) in Wednesday’s 1 p.m. opener.
Other first-round games include Murray State College (9-7, 18-12) vs. Western Oklahoma State College (8-7, 15-12) at 3 p.m. and Northern Oklahoma-Enid (9-6, 18-8) vs. Seminole State College (8-8, 13-15) at 8 p.m.
Semifinal games will be at 1 and 3 p.m. Friday, March 6 with the championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 7.
The winner advances to the NJCAA Women’s National Championship March 17-21 at Lubbock, Texas.
“It’s anybody’s tournament,” Rowland said. “There is no clear-cut winner in this deal. Redlands won the conference, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
The loss at Wilburton dropped the Lady Norse to 8-8 in Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference play and 13-13 overall.
They had inched back up in the conference standings with three straight wins, but since then have dropped three of the final four.
The win was a 67-63 overtime victory over Murray State here on Feb. 20.
The Lady Mavs, winless in the OCAC and 3-25 overall, have lost their last 15 games.
NOC’s only wins have been a home-and-home sweep of Allen County (Kansas) Community College and against the Southwestern College JV.
NEO swept Tonkawa 64-56 on the road on Nov. 25, then coasted to an 82-58 decision on Feb 3.
Rowland worries about it being a trap game.
“They are 0-16. They have won three games all year. It scares me,” Rowland said. “Tonkawa turns it up sometimes in the playoffs. He lets them play. I am worried. I told him about that last night when we were talking about what time we wanted to play on Monday.
“I told him that you throw all that out and that it’s another season. It could be a trap game.”
Sophomore Ivvana Murillo is NEO’s leader in scoring (12.7 points per game) and rebounds (9.2).
She’s joined in double figures by freshman Koreea Kirksey at 12.2 and sophomore Kiarra Brooks at 10.4.
Brooks, the recipient of the Dixie Woodall Inspirational Award, has scored 560 points over two seasons, an average of 10.8 point per game.
The Lady Mavericks have four players in double figures, all sophomores. Mia Brown leads the way at 11.8, followed by Chideyah Guyton, Hannah Maples and Carlee Murray are the leading scorers for NOC at 11.0, 10.9 and 10.7, respectively.