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NSU Closes Out Jack Dobbins Fields With OT Win Over Rival UCO

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TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -

The Northeastern State men's basketball team closed out Jack Dobbins Field House in style, defeating arch-rival Central Oklahoma 83-71 in overtime Wednesday night in front of a capacity crowd.

The RiverHawks (19-7, 12-6 MIAA) captured the season sweep over the Bronchos (12-13, 10-7 MIAA), while keeping hopes alive of a first-round bye in next week's MIAA Championship.

Junior guard Bryton Hobbs led NSU with a near triple-double of 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He never stepped off the floor and outscored UCO 8-3 in overtime.

The Bronchos shot just 1-for-8 in the extra session, while NSU was 5-for-6 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line.

Senior forward Jermaine Bransford finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Ethan Anderson knocked down a season-high five three-point field goals to end with 17 points, and sophomore forward Landon DeMasters added 11.

Overall, Northeastern State shot 45 percent (27-for-60) from the field, 32 percent (6-for-19) from behind the three-point line and 74 percent (23-for-31) at the free-throw line.

Central Oklahoma shot 43 percent (26-for-60) from the field, 33 percent (7-for-21) from beyond the arc and just 50 percent (12-for-24) at the charity stripe.

Spencer Smith paced the visitors with 21 points and eight boards. Jamell Cormier added 19 and Josh Gibbs dropped 18. The rest of the team combined to score just 13 points.

Northeastern State found the early seven-point advantage. Anderson knocked down two-straight triples to put the RiverHawks on top 16-9 at the 14:31 mark.

Central Oklahoma quickly erased that deficit, however, and the visitors were able to tie the contest at 23-23 midway through the first half.

Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the opening 20 minutes. That was until Cormier drained a triple with three seconds to play to give the Bronchos the 42-38 halftime edge.

Central Oklahoma extended its lead to five points on two separate occasions early in the second half, but the road side could not shake off the RiverHawks.

NSU finally regained the lead following yet another trey from Anderson with 8:45 to play, and senior guard Christian Mack put NSU on top by four on the team's next possession with a three-pointer of his own.

UCO regained the lead following a Gibbs three-pointer with 3:57 to play, and the visitors stayed on top for the next 3:44.

Both teams had plenty of chances to steal the game, none better than the waning moments of regulation. DeMasters tied the game at 68-68 and got fouled by Smith with 13 seconds to go, but he missed the free throw. Cormier had a chance to win the game for Central Oklahoma, but his contested shot in the lane went behind the basket and an extra session was required to settle the score.

Overtime turned into the Bryton Hobbs Show. He scored eight of NSU's 15 points, none prettier than a spinning layup through traffic with 1:24 left to put his team on top 78-71. The home team made all five free throws late to fend off their rivals and earn the extra-session victory over UCO.

NSU's six seniors were honored prior to the game, and they finished with a combined 48 points. The seniors who played their final regular-season home game were Anderson, Bransford, Zach Jones, Mack, Jon Miller, and John Schneider.

Following the historic victory, the raucous student section stormed the court and celebrated an epic ending to the 58-year facility.

Northeastern State will now sit back and watch the final weekend of the regular season. The RiverHawks need a loss from Washburn, Fort Hays State or Northwest Missouri State in order to avoid the first round in the MIAA Championship and receive a bye to the quarterfinals in Kansas City.

If all three teams win out, then NSU would earn the No. 5 seed in the MIAA Championship and would host whoever finishes No. 12 in the opening round March 4.

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