Hot start, smothering defense lift Northeastern Oklahoma A&M past Iowa Western 73-47
LUBBOCK, Texas – Mariah Green led five scorers in double figures with 15 points, and No. 11 seed Northeast Oklahoma A&M cruised to a 73-47 win over Iowa Western Community College in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship on Tuesday at the Rip Griffin Center.
Hatty Nawezhi added 13 points while Jennah Coffman chipped in 12 for the Lady Norse. Maria Delgado and Kamry Orr rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
NEO (29-2) held Iowa Western (22-9) to just 27 percent shooting for the game, including just 3 of 21 from the three-point line in bursting out to a big lead and never looking back.
“We had three keys to the game and they were defensive rebounding, defensive stops and hitting shots, and I thought we did that today,” NEO head coach Jim Rowland said. “We got stops tonight and that was one of our keys and the biggest thing was awe made sure we got defensive stops. Our defense played well.”
The win puts the Lady Norse into the Round of 16 where they will face No. 6 seed and 2016 national runner-up Trinity Valley Community College (27-5) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Iowa Western, which allowed just 56 points per game coming into their second tournament appearance in three years, finishes the season at 24-9. Azaria Floyd led the Reivers with 14 points, the only IWCC player to score in double figures.
“We didn’t shoot very well tonight. It’s difficult to win any game when you don’t shoot the ball very good,” Iowa Western head coach Lindsey Vande Hoef said. “I thought we did somewhat well with their pressure but there were some things we gave up too easily on the defensive end of things.
“Obviously, the size differential hurt us with the inside outside threats they have. We tried to make some adjustments off of that and went more zone. Overall NEO is an amazing team and I hope to see them go all the way.”
The Lady Norse got off to a sizzling start in the first quarter and never let up on racing out to a 20-point halftime lead.
NEO shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first quarter (7 of 13) and hit three of five from beyond the three-point arc. At the same time, the Lady Norse put the defensive clamps on the Reivers, holding them to 16.7 percent from the field (3 of 18) in the first quarter and 25 percent (8 of 32) for the first half.
That allowed the Lady Norse to jump out to an 18-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, but they really turned up the heat in the second quarter, using a 10-2 run to push the lead to 31-18 then finishing the first half on a 9-2 run to lead 40-20 at the intermission.
The balance for NEO was also on display as Nawezhi and Green each had nine points in the first half, and no one else had more but Orr chipped in six and Delgado and Coffman had five each.
NEO finished the first half hitting just shy of 55 percent from the floor (17 of 31) while dominating in the paint, scoring 22 of its 40 points from close range.
Meanwhile, no player for Iowa Western had more than Delia Ania-Gaja’s four points.