ENID, Okla. — Murray State jumped out to an 11-0 lead to start the game, proving too much to overcome for the Northern Oklahoma College Enid Jets as NOC Enid dropped an 83-72 decision to the Aggies Thursday at the Mabee Center in an Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference game.
Jets head coach Aaron Butcher, while disappointed in the outcome, was pleased with the way the Jets persevered, cutting the deficit to six points in the first half and again in the second half.
"Credit our guys for fighting back," Butcher said. "We showed some good fight getting back in the game. It shows that we're right there, we just have to figure out what it's going to take to get there. We've been there long enough, we've just got to get a little better."
The Jets hurt their own cause by only going 32 of 45 at the line. "We left some points out there," Butcher said.
The win improved first-place Murray State to 16-3 overall and 7-0 in the conference. The Aggies were led in scoring by Rod Thomas' 16 points.
"They're the real deal," Butcher said. "We were good, but they're the real deal."
The Jets (12-9, 3-4) were led in scoring by Ikenna Okeke with 18 points. He was one of four Jets players in double digits, followed by Rance Kendrick with 17 points, Jalen Stamps' 15 points off the bench and Questyn Luckey with 11 points, including 9 of 10 at the line.
"Jalen (Stamps) gave us a nice spark and Okeke continued to get back to form," Butcher said.
Lady Jets sputter in 4th
Alaijah Stewart scored 30 points — including five treys in the first quarter — as Murray State beat the Lady Jets, 69-62 in the women's game.
The Lady Aggies, now 3-3 in conference and 12-9, started quick and finished strong. Stewart's hot shooting gave MSC a 20-12 first quarter lead. NOC Enid used a 21-11 third quarter spurt to go up 47-43, but the Lady Aggies outscored the Lady Jets (5-2, 14-4), 26-15 in the fourth quarter.
"Once we gave up the lead, we never got our offense going in the fourth quarter,'' said NOC Enid coach Scott Morris. "Murray did a good job rolling the dice on defense. They did something they hadn't been doing all year and they were pretty effective with it. We had too many scoring droughts, especially in the fourth quarter.''
The Lady Aggies ran both a 1-3-1 and a 2-3 zone.
"They mixed things up,'' Morris said. "It took us awhile to get adjusted to that.''
Hayden Freeman led the Lady Jets with 15 points while Fairview's Tanara Combs had 13 and Euresia Brown 11.
The zone frustrated Shelby Black, NOC Enid's leading scorer, who was held to eight points, less than half of her 18.9 average.
"The zone knocked us back on our heels,'' Morris said. "We weren't very assertive. Shelby didn't get many open looks and the ones she did get, she didn't knock it down like she normally does. Anytime somebody plays a zone against you, you have to hit shots to stretch out the zone. We struggled in the perimeter and played right into their hands.''
Morris did praise both Freeman and Combs.
"I was really proud of Hayden Freeman,'' he said. "She gave us a big boost. Tanara was solid and gave us a lot of energy.''
Unfortunately for NOC Enid, Stewart did the same for the Lady Aggies.
"We didn't play smart that first quarter,'' Morris said. "Once you let a player get that kind of confidence, it's difficult to stop that kind of momentum. Murray State is on a streak (three-game winning streak). We were never able to slow them down.''
Both NOC Enid teams travel to Western Oklahoma Monday.