The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 17, 2013

NOC Enid splits with Connors State

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — It was all about the 3s at the Northern Oklahoma College-Connors State Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference basketball doubleheader at the Mabee Center Thursday.

Kati Sullivan hit seven treys in a 23-point performance as the No. 22 Lady Jets celebrated homecoming with a 76-50 win over Connors for their ninth straight victory. The win allowed NOC Enid to remain tied with Northeastern A&M for the OCAC lead at 6-1.

In the nightcap, Connors’ Hakeem Harris hit seven 3-pointers in scoring 28 of his game-high 30 points in the second half as the Cowboys won the men’s game 85-71. The loss dropped the Jets (14-5, 4-3) out of a share of the conference lead.

NOC Enid’s women used an 18-4 spurt to turn a 33-33 tie early in the second half into a commanding  51-37 advantage after two free throws by Chelsea Bates with 13:16 remaining.

“I was very pleased with the girls’ intensity and focus,’’ said Lady Jets coach Scott Morris. “That was a good win for us.’’

Sullivan had five 3s in scoring 15 of her 23 points in the first half. Marisha Williams had 10 points in each half in scoring 20 points, controlling the inside.

“The great thing about this team is our balance,’’ Morris said. “We’re putting the pieces of the puzzle together. We put shooters around Marisha and spread the offense. You pick your poison. If you want to stop the 3s, that what opens up the inside.’’

Christa Beasler had three treys and was the third Lady Jets player to reach double digits, scoring 10 points.

Sullivan was seven of 16, often firing up successfully from NBA 3-point range. She is hitting better than 50 percent from 3-point range in the last several games after being slowed by injuries the first semester.

“If I could shoot like her, you couldn’t pry the ball out of my hands,’’ Morris said. “This isn’t a fluke. She’s been shooting like that ever since she picked up a basketball.’’

Morris made a deal with Sullivan that she would shoot every time she’s open and Morris wouldn’t yell at her to shoot.

“There was one time she turned down an open shot,’’ Morris said with a smile. “I said I thought we had a deal. She shot the next one and hit it ... she can get that separation and shoot it quickly.’’

CONNORS 85, NOC ENID 71 (M)

Harris hit only two free throws in the first half, but made up for it after intermission. He was eight of 12 from the field and five of six from the line.

“Coach challenged me in the locker room at halftime (with Connors leading 32-29),’’ Harris said. “He told me if you’re a high major player, you’ve got to have a high major performance. I always wanted to take on a challenge. The most important thing was that we won.’’

The Cowboys were 14 of 22 as a team from the field. They had more 3s (12) than twos (11). Josh Cameron had four treys in a 23-point performance.

“I can shoot it,’’ Harris said. “I’ve had performances like this before, but the important thing is that we retain the (OCAC) lead.’’

“They hit some big ones,’’ said NOC Enid assistant coach Ryan Mahoney. “When a guy hits seven 3s in a half, it’s difficult to stop. We’ve got to make shooters feel uncomfortable. He was in a zone tonight and we have to find a way to get him out of his zone.’’

The Jets had difficulty finding their zone, thanks to foul problems. Jeremy Espinoza, NOC Enid’s leading scorer, sat out most of the first half with three fouls and drew his fourth with 18:12 remaining. He scored only one point.

Dalen Qualls had a season-high 27 points, but Connor Brooks was the only other Jet in double figures with 13 points. The Jets were 21 of 51 from the field.

The Jets trailed only 32-29 at halftime but were outscored 53-42 in the second half.

“We had a lot of careless fouls in the first half which caused us to have to go deep into our bench,’’ Mahoney said. “It got us out of rhythm. That shouldn’t have mattered. We were down by only three at halftime. They just hit the shots.’’

Mahoney said he was pleased with the Jets’ effort.

“We battled, give our guys credit for that,’’ he said. “We didn’t quit. We were still pushing the ball up and attacking the rim to get to the foul line.’’

NOC Enid visits Murray State Monday.

“We’re only a game out of first,’’ Mahoney said. “We still have a lot of games to play. We win Monday and we’re back in the hunt.’’

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