The Edmond Sun

Sports

February 7, 2014

UCO basketball splits at NSU

TAHLEQUAH —  Josh Gibbs scored six of his team-high 24 points in the second overtime to spark Central Oklahoma to a thrilling 96-94 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association victory over intrastate rival Northeastern State in Tahlequah Thursday night.

The RiverHawks used last-second heroics to force both overtimes, but UCO prevailed in the end for its second straight narrow victory.

Gibbs had back-to-back layups to break an 85-all tie in the second extra session and he answered two NSU free throws with two of his own to keep the Bronchos on top by four (89-85) with 37 seconds remaining.

Teammate Aaron Anderson made it 90-85 by hitting 1-of-2 free throws and Seth Heckart followed an RiverHawk 3-pointer with two foul shots to put the Bronchos on top 94-90 with 10 seconds left.

Quick fouls led to eight free throws in the next seven seconds, with the RiverHawks hitting all four of their attempts while Cal Andrews made 2-of-4 for the Bronchos. Andrews’ last make with three seconds left made it 96-94 and Bryton Hobbs’ winning 3-point try was off the mark.

“It was a tough game that had a lot of big momentum swings, but we found a way to get it done,” Central Oklahoma head coach Terry Evans said. “Our guys fought hard the whole game and we just never gave up. It was a great team effort and a great win for us.”

The Bronchos, who beat Pittsburg State 74-73 in their last outing, improved to 13-7 on the season and 7-6 in the conference. Northeastern fell to 11-9 and 6-7.

Free-throw shooting nearly cost UCO, which made just 23-of-39 charity tosses (59.0 percent).

Gibbs added a game-high 14 rebounds and five assists to his 24-point outing. The Bronchos also got 19 points apiece from Aaron Anderson and Seth Heckart, while Andrews added 15.

Anderson made two free throws with one second left in the half to get the Bronchos within 10 (42-32) at intermission and the Bronchos battled from behind the entire second half.

Two Anderson free throws had Central on top 65-63 with 3:21 left and Heckart followed an NSU trey with one to give UCO a 68-66 lead with 50 seconds left. Heckart hit 1-of-2 foul shots with 15 seconds to play to make it a three-point cushion, but the RiverHawks’ Bryton Hobbs hit a 3-pointer with eight ticks on the clock to force overtime.

It was tied 73-73 early in the first OT when the Bronchos seemingly took control, getting consecutive layups from Jarred Bairstow and a Heckart trey to open up a seven-point lead (80-73) with just 1:08 remaining. But the RiverHawks stormed back, outscoring UCO 8-1 the rest of the way to pull even at 81 and send it to another extra period.

The Bronchos travel to Pittsburg, Kan. Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. rematch with Pittsburg State.

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