After letting a 21-point lead slip away, the Northern Oklahoma College Enid women's basketball team needed a fourth quarter rally to defeat Eastern Oklahoma State, 72-63, in the conference opener Thursday at the Mabee Center.
In the training room following the game, NOC Enid head coach Scott Morris was relieved the roller-coaster was over.
"The overall thought is feel fortunate to get that thing in the books," he said.
Unlike the slow start that hindered their performance and eventually led to a loss against Butler Tuesday, the Lady Jets (7-1, 1-0) wasted no time building a lead early against the Lady Mountaineers (5-2, 0-1).
NOC Enid took a 7-0 advantage in the opening minutes of the first quarter. That momentum continued as the Lady Jets led 23-11 at the end of the first frame. NOC Enid freshman guard Shelby Black hit a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key just seconds before the buzzer sounded.
Morris said the difference between the Lady Jets' fast and slow starts has simply been a mindset.
By halftime, the Lady Jets were up 39-23 following a quick 5-0 run in the final minute of the half. Sophomore forward Sarah Griswold hit two free-throw attempts with 4.3 seconds remaining. NOC Enid took its largest lead — 21 points — early in the third quarter before the Lady Mountaineers stormed back with a 33-10 run that stretched midway into the fourth quarter.
Morris said the Lady Jets reverted back to a timid attack which allowed Eastern to find its way back into it. However, the Lady Mountaineers' lead was short-lived as NOC Enid responded with a 12-0 run to regain control and inevitably close out a win in it conference opener.
"We're fortunate to get out of a game that you play that poorly in that third quarter and still be able to win," Morris said.
Black led all scorers with 25 points. The total was also a season-high for the Red Rock native. Griswold (13), Kaylee Hurst (11) and Tanara Combs (10) also posted double-figures for the Lady Jets.
Eastern's Tijanae Simmons scored a team-high 12.
The Lady Mountaineers entered Thursday's contest averaging 93.7 points per game, fifth-highest in NJCAA Division I. NOC Enid held them to 30 points below that mark for a season-low.
The Lady Jets are back in action at Seminole State (3-6, 0-1) Monday for another conference matchup. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Jets hang on late, edge Mountaineers
The NOC Enid men also let a significant lead slip away in their game, but persevered for a 73-71 win in the conference opener.
Both the Jets (7-4, 1-0) and Mountaineers (4-4, 0-1) struggled to find a rhythm offensively as each missed their first five field-goal attempts.
Midway through the first half, NOC Enid was forced to take a timeout trailing 27-22. Out of the break, the Jets responded with a 9-0 run to take a 31-27 advantage. Despite the game coming down to the wire late, NOC Enid never lost its lead following the scoring run.
At halftime, the Jets extended their lead to 40-33.
The Mountaineers slowly chipped away at the deficit and pulled within two, 59-57, just past the halfway point of the second half. NOC Enid built its lead back up to seven — which forced Eastern to call a timeout — but the Mountaineers kept pace.
The Jets missed four game-sealing free throws in the final five seconds, but were fortunate to walk away with a win, which also snapped a 3-game conference losing streak dating back to last season.
"That's one thing that has not been good," NOC Enid head coach Aaron Butcher said about the Jets free-throw shooting. "It about got us again missing all four there at the end, but we made plays, put ourselves in position to finish it and we did."
The Jets made 18 of 31 attempts from the stripe.
NOC Enid freshman Ikenna Okeke posted a team-high 14 points, while sophomore Josh Perkins added 12.
Eastern sophomores Dante Adams and G'Quavious Lennox both scored a game-high 16 points.
NOC Enid returns to the court for a road contest against Seminole State (10-0, 1-0) Monday. The game is scheduled to start at approximately 7:30 p.m. following the conclusion of the women's game.