The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

February 23, 2013

NOC Enid splits with Connors

WARNER, Okla. — Chelsea Bates scored a career-high 29 points as Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s women, down to six players because of injuries and illness, beat Connors State 86-80 in overtime in Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference play Saturday.

The host Cowboys were able to earn a split as Connors won the men’s game 85-77 behind Hakeem Harris’ 28 points. Dalen Qualls had a career-high 37 points for NOC Enid.

Lady Jets coach Scott Morris called the women’s victory “one of the gustier efforts I’ve ever coached.’’ The win boosted NOC Enid’s record to 20-8 overall and 12-4 in the conference.

He said Bates’ performance was “maybe the gutsiest individual performance that I have ever coached as well.’’

“She’s our leader,’’ Morris said. “We had a lot of new people look to her for guidance and leadership and she provided it.’’

Marisha Wallace was out with mono. Shannon Hough, her backup, had a viral infection. Paige Eaton suited up, but was only available for emergency action (if NOC Enid was down to five) because of leg injuries.

Two of the six — Rani Melvin and McKinsey Schumpert weren’t even on the roster in the preseason.

Bates was joined in double figures by Rylie Swanson, who had 22 points, Christa Beasler with 17 and Enid native Regan Crowl had 10.

“It’s just amazing,’’ Morris said. “We had to make some adjustments in the way we played defense to avoid foul trouble. We had to preserve energy. The girls handled that and played pretty tough.’’

The Lady Jets outscored Connors 15-9 in the overtime period with Schumpert picking up four of her five points.

Connors led only once, 74-73. NOC Enid answered back with a 6-0 run to take a 79-74 advantage and were never headed.

“I don’t think that much changed in the overtime,’’ Morris said. “We were able to contest their shooters a little bit. They missed a few and we were able to get some rebounds.’’

Connors came back from a 66-52 deficit with five minutes left to force overtime at 71-71. Neither team scored in the final 1:43 after Sha-Georgia Williams tied the game for the home team with a 3-pointer.

CONNORS 85,

NOC ENID 77 (M)

The tone of the game was set early when the Jets’ Connor Brooks, the team’s third leading scorer, was elbowed in the head on the game’s first possession.

Brooks had to leave the game for a few minutes for medical attention as Connors opened the game with runs of 7-0 and 12-2. NOC Enid would never lead.

“The game got way too physical,’’ said Jets assistant coach Ryan Mahoney. “It might have been a totally different game if we had Connor from the beginning. That’s not usually how you think the game is going to start. It was an awkward start to the game.’’

Harris had 23 points as the Cowboys led 48-34 at halftime. He was held without a field goal in the second half by David Foster and Marquavius Williams.

“We put an onus to stop him and they did,’’ Mahoney said. “They played with great intensity.’’

Qualls had 21 points in the second half, but it wasn’t quite enough for the Jets. The closest NOC Enid would get was 65-63.

The Jets were within three points three times in the last three minutes. Connors, though, hit six key free throws down the stretch to insure the victory.

Brooks was the other Jet in double figures with 16 points, 10 in the second half. Jeremy Espinoza, the team’s second leading scorer, was held to four points after being in foul trouble most of the game.

“We have to get Dalen some help,’’ Mahoney said. “The load is falling solely on him, Connor and Jeremy. Our freshmen aren’t contributing enough.

“We struggle to score when we don’t have Jeremy to throw the ball to inside.’’

The loss dropped the Jets to 19-9 overall and 9-7 in conference. Connors raised its record to 21-6 and 11-5.

NOC Enid faces Murray State in its home finale Monday, weather permitting.

“We responded well in the second half,’’ Mahoney said. “We just have to put in 40 minutes like that. If we had played like that for 40 minutes, we would have won the game.’’

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