After seeing a 15-point second half lead whittled away and the game tied at 58-58 in the final minutes, Rod Camphor took control of the rivalry game between Southwestern Oklahoma State and Northwestern Oklahoma State on Thursday evening at Rankin Williams Fieldhouse.
Northwestern tied the game for the first time at 58-58 on a lay-in from Bruce Wright with 2:29 to play, but Camphor responded with two free throws on the ensuing SWOSU possession that put the Dawgs back on top 60-58. Michael Bradley swatted a Jonathan Freemyer shot on the Rangers next possession, giving SWOSU the ball back with just under two minutes to play.
That was when Camphor put his signature on the long-standing rivalry between the two schools by hitting a long-range 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, extending the lead to 63-58 with 1:23 to play and sending the raucous crowd of 1,567 at Rankin Williams Fieldhouse into a frenzy of jubilation.
The home crowd played a large part in providing the Bulldogs energy throughout the game, especially in the beginning as SWOSU jumped on top 12-0 to open the game and held a lead as high as 14 in the first half at 28-14 with 5:43 to play. NWOSU finished the half on an 8-2 run, however, putting them within striking distance at 30-22 at the break.
The Rangers came out hot in the second half, getting back-to-back three's from Wright and Brandon Wooley to get within two at 32-30 just two minutes into the half. From there, SWOSU went on an 8-2 run over the next three minutes which was halted after a technical foul was assessed to Camphor.
That technical foul, which counted as the third personal on Camphor, brought the junior from Baltimore to life. He scored the next five points for SWOSU, including a monstrous jam off a stolen in bounds pass that really re-energized the Bulldogs. SWOSU would push the lead as high as 15 at 52-37 on a jumper by Marin Zelalija, but then NWOSU began their comeback over the final nine minutes before tying the game at 58-58.
Camphor led the Bulldogs with 21 points, including 18 in the second half and 16 after picking up the technical foul. He needed just eight field-goal attempts to reach that number, knocking down six of them, including 3-4 shooting from long range.
Joining Camphor in double figures were Zelalija and Mike Bradley, who each had 11 points. SWOSU connected on 20-of-51 field goal attempts (39.2%) and 5-of-19 (26.3%) of their 3-pointers to help overcome a deficit on the backboards, where they were outrebounded 39-35 by the Rangers.
Northwestern (14-11, 12-7 GAC), co-leaders in the GAC entering the game, was led by 14 points from Daryl Glover and 11 apiece from Freemyer and Wright.
The Bulldogs end the regular season 11-15 overall and 10-10 in GAC play, but they will ride a two-game winning streak into the conference tournament next week in Bartlesville, Okla. Final seeding for the tournament will be determined on Saturday night following the conclusion of regular season action.