MIAMI — This was one of those “find a way to win” type games for the Northeastern A&M women.
Trailing by six heading into the fourth quarter, they flipped things around and chalked up a 68-64 win over Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa in a Region II women’s basketball tournament play-in game Monday, March 2.
“The old saying is ‘survive and advance,’” Lady Norse coach Jim Rowland said. “That’s all we can do. I am proud of them. They gave themselves a chance to go win it. They gave themselves a chance to put them selves in the Region II tournament and gave themselves a chance to go win one.
“I think we’re more than capable of doing it too.”
A 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter helped erase the six-point deficit and the Lady Norse eventually took a 64-60 lead.
However, Northern battled back and tied the game at 64 with 2:00 remaining on a pair of free throws by Cassie Manning.
Ivvana Murillo gave the Lady Norse the lead for good with 17.5 seconds left, then Dariann Miles sealed the victory by canning two free throws at the 8.5-second mark.
“They panicked a little bit — we made them rush a little because we threw the press on them every now and then,” Rowland said.
After leading 41-33 at the break, the Lady Norse were outscored 23-9 in the third frame. That gave Northern its six-point lead going into the fourth.
However, the Lady Mavs connected on only 2 of 17 shots from 2-point range and missed all six of their 3-point tries over the final 10 minutes.
“I think we were on our heels. We were nervous because we didn’t want to lose,” Rowland said. “That was on our minds, wanting to get to the region tournament. “I tried to calm them down early.”
With the win, the Lady Norse (9-8 in the region and 14-13 overall) advance to Shawnee, where they face Eastern Oklahoma State College (11-5, 19-11) at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 4 at Oklahoma Baptist University’s Mabee Center.
NEO split the regular season series with Eastern, the No. 2 seed for the tournament.
Northeastern A&M rolled 79-66 in Miami on Jan. 27 then the Lady Mountaineers logged a 63-59 win at Wilburton on Feb. 27.
A win would move the Lady Norse into a 3 p.m. Friday semifinal clash against either Northern Oklahoma-Enid or Seminole State College.
Those two play at 8 p.m. Wednesday night.
Connors State College rolled to a 62-40 win over Arkansas Baptist in the other play-in clash Monday night.
The Cowgirls are paired against No. 1 seed Redlands College. They clash in Wednesday’s 1 p.m. opener.
The other first-round game Wednesday has Murray State College facing Western Oklahoma State College at 3 p.m.
Friday’s semifinal games are at 1 and 3 p.m. with the championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 7.
In men’s play-in games Monday, Eastern outslugged Western 109-105 while Arkansas Baptist tripped up Redlands 85-81.
The men’s schedule Thursday, March 5 includes NEO vs. Eastern, 1 p.m.; Connors State vs. Northern-Enid, 3 p.m.; Murray State vs. Arkansas Baptist, 6 p.m., and Northern-Tonkawa vs. Seminole at 8 p.m.
Semifinal games will be at 6 and 8 p.m. Friday with the men’s championship decided at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Lady Norse were without key reserve Gabriela Chivata, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the loss at Eastern, and leading scorers Kiarra Brooks and Koreea Kirksey fouled out within 47 seconds of each other late in the game, stressing the bench even more.
Kirksey finished with 19 points while Brooks added 18.
That was the first time Kirksey had fouled out of the game and just the second for Brooks.
Murillo finished with nine points, followed by Eliska Stebetakova with eight, Myles and Kayla Shepperd with five each and Kine Dopp with four.
Northern had three players in double figures, topped by reserve Radina Zhivichka with 15. Caitlin Bailey and Chideyah Guyton added 10 apiece.