TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After in-state rival Northeastern State cut the Rogers State men's basketball team's lead to only two points, the Hillcats responded with timely baskets and defensive stops to earn a 62-54 win over the RiverHawks on Wednesday at the NSU Event Center. RSU moved to 5-0 all-time against the rival RiverHawks and upped its record this season to 2-1.
With the Hillcats up 50-38 with 11:09 left in the contest, the host RiverHawks went on a 9-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Tanner Mouse to cut the deficit to only three at 50-47. After two RSU free throws from Tate Turner, NSU hit another 3-pointer, this time by Marquise Harris, to pull the RiverHawks to within two at 52-50, the smallest margin of the game since the early moments in the first half, with 6:06 remaining.
Saint Hilaire ended the NSU run with a baseline drive for a layup for a 54-50 score at the 4:53 mark. Hilaire was fouled, but missed the free throw after the final media timeout. The Hillcats got a stop on defense and RSU's Gabriel Ferreira put the Cats up 56-50 with a jumper with 4:11 left. After two missed free throws from NSU, Baron Smith Jr. went at the RiverHawks with a driving layup for a 58-50 score at the 3:20 mark. The Hillcats made enough free throws in the closing minute to earn the 62-54 win.
The navy and red started the game with back-to-back buckets from Turner and Smith for an early 4-0 edge in the first 48 seconds. The Hillcats doubled up the RiverHawks, 14-7, on a Brewster Peacock 3 at the 13:40 mark of the first half.
Already holding a 29-23 lead, RSU went on an 8-0 run in less than two minutes to open up a 37-23 margin on the RiverHawks with 1:43 left before half. Hilaire scored two consecutive baskets, and Turner and Gage Layup put in layups for the 14-point advantage. The Hillcats held a 39-26 lead at halftime.
RSU controlled the first 10 minutes of the second half, leading by at least 10 points for the first half of the period before the late spurt from NSU.
Smith posted a game-high 15 points and five assists in 35 minutes. Gage Loy went for 12 points and a team-high six rebounds. The Hillcats finished shooting 46.2 percent (24-52) from the field, including 57.1 percent (16-28) in the first half.
NSU was paced by Mouse with 12 points in 21 minutes. Jamir Andrews registered 10 points. The RiverHawks shot 30.5 percent (18-59) from the field.
The Hillcats open their 2017-18 home schedule with the annual homecoming game on Saturday against Central Christian (Kan.) at 4 p.m. inside the Claremore Expo Center. Follow the action on the Hillcat Network at rsu-hillcats.com/live and on 91.3 FM.
For more information on RSU basketball, go to rsuhillcats.com.