By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s 65-61 win over conference co-leader Murray State wasn’t always pretty, but it put a smile on Jets coach Greg Shamburg’s face.
“Anytime you win a game where you have to fight, scratch and claw, it’s always a good confidence builder,’’ Shamburg said. “We have blown some close games, so we needed to win a close game like this.’’
The win completed a sweep for NOC Enid. The league-leading Lady Jets (16-2, 7-0) whipped the Lady Aggies, 87-68 behind 28 points from Ashlyn Briegge and 26 from Marisha Wallace. It was the team’s seventh straight win.
The Jets showed the poise in the stretch which they have lacked in past close games.
Xavier McClish hit four free throws in the last 31 seconds, and the Jets were able to force two key turnovers, the last coming with 8.7 seconds remaining.
The Jets never trailed in the second half, but never led by more than five points. NOC Enid was 19-of-44 from the field and 25-of-37 from the foul line.
“It was a hard-fought conference game,’’ Shamburg said. “I don’t think we played great, but we played hard and found a way to win. That’s what you have to do in the league, find a way to win. We made some plays down the stretch.’’
The Aggies tied the game at 55 on a 3-pointer by Jordan Lankster with 6:08 left. The Jets answered with a 4-0 run and led by five points twice.
Travis Cabajal led the Jets with 15 points with a strong game inside, especially on the offensive boards. McClish was the other Jet in double figures with 13.
“Travis is really good about attacking the rim and getting rebounds,’’ Shamburg said. “What makes Travis special is that he’s a blue collar guy who does all the dirty work. People don’t realize how valuable somebody like that is.’’
McClish struggled for much of the game, but had eight of his points in the last 7:53 during crunch time. He hit two free throws with 31.7 and 21 seconds left.
“He’s such a competitor that sometimes he gets caught up in the game and doesn’t play smart,’’ Shamburg said. “But he plays to win, and he’s a winner.’’
Tim Smallwood hit a game-high 28 points for the Aggies, who dropped to 5-3 in the league. The Jets are now 12-6 overall and 4-3.
The Aggies had five more field goals than NOC Enid (24-19) but were only five-of-10 from the line.
“We guarded them tonight,’’ Shamburg said. “We just didn’t make our field goals or free throws, but we’ll take it. If we can play well and win on the road Thursday (at Carl Albert), we’ll be right back in contention for the first or second spot.’’
NOC ENID 87, MURRAY ST. 68 (W)
The Lady Jets had one of their best offensive nights of the season, going 26-of-42 from the field, including 10 three-pointers.
The defense didn’t get high marks though as NOC Enid led only 43-39 at halftime, thanks to the Lady Aggies hitting eight three-pointers.
Lady Jets coach Scott Morris kept his team in the locker room right up to the second-half buzzer talking defense.
“Their assistant coach said that was the best they shot all season, but we weren’t guarding anybody,’’ Morris said. “We were very poor fundamentally. To see that get exploited and still get a win, we feel very fortunate. We will address those issues in practice.’’
Whatever Morris said at halftime worked. NOC Enid opened the second half with a 17-4 run and never looked back.
“This group is easy to motivate,’’ he said. “If you challenge them, they will step up and respond. The big difference was that we were able to avoid foul trouble. We had to go to a zone in the first half to avoid that. The second half allowed us to play more man with their shooters.’’
Briegge was 8-of-10 from the field, including six 3s. Wallace was 9-of-11 inside.
“Ashlyn has been phenomenal and Marisha is learning to play with every game,’’ Morris said.
Freshman Chelsea Bates had a season-high 15 points while Justice Payne had 10 points, including three 3s.
“We knocked down a lot of shots and stayed with our game plan,’’ Morris said.
The Jets and Lady Jets will visit Carl Albert Thursday in Poteau.