The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 12, 2013

Heartbreak and triumph for NOC Enid against Eastern

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Taylor Jones’ off-balance shot with two seconds remaining gave Eastern Oklahoma a 62-59 win over Northern Oklahoma College Enid Monday at the Mabee Center, allowing the Lady Mountaineers to maintain their lead in the Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The men’s game was a different story as the Jets had five players in double figures, led by Connor Brooks’ 28 and Jeremy Espinoza’s 22 in a 96-86 win over the Mountaineers.

The Lady Jets’ loss dropped the NOC Enid women (10-4) two games behind the Lady Mountain-eers (12-2) in the OCAC race.

NOC Enid’s men raised their conference record to 8-6 and 18-8 overall. Eastern dropped to 6-8 in conference.

“The year that we went to the Final Four (2010-11), we didn’t win our conference,’’ said NOC Enid coach Scott Morris. “It’s not over yet. Eastern has a tough stretch still, but it’s frustrating when you don’t control your own destiny.’’

The Lady Jets, down 14 (53-39) with 7:51 remaining, used a 20-4 run to take a 59-57 lead after two free throws by Marisha Williams with 1:07 left.

NOC Enid, though, would not score again. Shola Adeboyo hit two free throws with 56.7 seconds left to tie the game.

Christa Beasler missed a desperation shot as the shot clock wound down. Jones, who had 19 points, hit a three off balance to beat the clock.

“It really feels surreal,’’ Jones said. “It doesn’t seem real, but I’m glad it happened. We needed the win and we got it. I was focused, and at the last minute, I had to put it up there and hope it went in, and it did.’’

Morris gave Jones credit for the shot.

“We went to double on the post and they kicked it out,’’ Morris said. “It was a tough shot, but she was making those all night. We shouldn’t have let her go. Give her credit. She hit a tough shot.’’

The loss was a costly one for the Lady Jets as shooting guard Kati Sullivan went down late in the game. She will have an MRI today, but it appears to be an ACL injury.

“It doesn’t look good,’’ Morris said. “It was a tough night. We didn’t play well and we may have lost a kid for the season. We have to wait and see. You don’t want to overreact. We will be praying for her and hope everything turns out for the best.’’

Chelsea Bates and Williams led the Lady Jets with 11 points. Beasler had 10. All of Bates’ points came in the last eight minutes when the Lady Jets rallied.

“In the last 10 minutes, we finally started to play aggressive,’’ Morris said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to find that sense of urgency before our backs are against the wall.’’

The game was extremely physical. Eastern led 35-26 at halftime with both Bates and Williams sitting out much of the first 20 minutes with foul trouble.

“That’s been hurting us all year,’’ Morris said about foul problems. “It’s a result of a lack of mental discipline.’’



The Jets topped the 90-point mark for the fifth time this season, and the first time in conference play.

Brooks and Espinoza were joined in double figures by Dalen Qualls with 19, Andres Bigum with a season-high 11 and Marquavius Williams with 10.

“The entire team all showed up and competed hard,’’ Brooks said. “I felt like that was the most complete game that we have played this season.’’

The Jets took the lead for good when Brooks hit a three-pointer with 12:07 left in the first half to break a 13-13 tie. That started a 9-0 run, and NOC Enid never looked back.

“We were attacking their pressure and not letting them come to us,’’ Brooks said. “We attacked them. We did go to the rim and got a lot of free throws (23 of 38). We missed too many of them, but we’ll take it.’’

The Mountaineers, who had come back from a large halftime deficit in last year’s game in Enid, got as close as eight twice (78-70 and 89-81) in the last six minutes.

However, the Jets had an answer each time.

“We started to turn it over some, but we believe in ourselves and trust each other to hang on to the ball and finish it out,’’ Brooks said. “That’s what we did. That was the most complete game we put together.’’

Assistant coach Ryan Mahoney said the Jets played like “they had a chip on their shoulder.’’

“When we play like that, we’re pretty damn good,’’ Mahoney said. “You have to attack the rim like we did late in the game when you have a lead. That’s how you get steals and that’s how you get layups.’’

Mahoney, though, said it was not a complete 40-minute game.

“There’s always more than you give,’’ he said. “We don’t want these guys to be satisified. Once you get satisified, you start playing complacent and you don’t play with a chip on your shoulder.’’

It was the first win over the Mountaineers for any of the current Jets players.

Eastern had three players with 20 or more points — Rodnerius Lewis with 27, Ryan Devers with 22 and Alfonzie Wilson with 21.

NOC Enid will have Thursday off before hosting Western Oklahoma College next Monday.