SHAWNEE — Coaches love to say, “Play them one at a time.”
That fits the Northeastern A&M women.
After playing .500 basketball in the regular season, they’re 2-0 in the Region II tournament thanks to Wednesday’s 69-64 squeaker against Eastern Oklahoma State College at Oklahoma Baptist University.
“One at a time — one at a time, survive and advance is what it is,” Lady Norse coach Jim Rowland said.
The “next one” will be against Northern Oklahoma-Enid at 3 p.m. Friday. The Lady Jets defeated Seminole 74-70 in another first-round game.
In other action on the first day of the tournament, it was Redlands 68, Connors State 51, and Murray State 86, Western Oklahoma 79.
Redlands and Murray State meet in the 1 p.m. semifinal.
“The girls are really, really excited,” Rowland said. “They’re not satisfied, but they are very, very happy. I wouldn't say satisfied, just because we’ve still got a lot of games to play. But they are very, very happy with where we’re at right now.
“If we can keep that confidence in ourselves, we’ve got a real good shot at getting ourselves into the finals.”
With the back-to-back wins — they eliminated Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa in a play-in game Monday night, the Lady Norse are 15-13.
By staving off Eastern, NEO was able to claim its first neutral site win in three games and just their third victory in 12 road games.
The Lady Norse were up 36-23 at the break and pushed that to 41-23 three minutes into the third quarter.
“We just started relaxing,” Rowland said. “I could see it coming just because of the shots we were taking. We started missing those little bitty chippies (shots) and I thought ‘oh boy, here we go’ and they hit a couple big shots which allowed them to start cutting into the lead.”
The Lady Mountaineers managed to get back to within three (67-64) with 25.8 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Tijanae Simmons.
However, free throws by Ivvana Murillo and Kayla Shepperd down the stretch held Eastern at bay.
“I have to commend the girls with the way we kept fighting and the grit we had to pull out this win,” Rowland said.
Shepperd came off the bench and scored a team-high 15 points for NEO.
Joining her in double figures were Murillo, who had 14, Dariann Myles with a season-best 13 and Kiarra Brooks and Eliska Stebetakova, who scored 11 each.
Koreea Kirksey accounted for the other five Lady Norse points.
Simmons was Eastern’s leading scorer with 24 points.