TAHLEQUAH — Northeastern State men’s coach Larry Gipson knew that the team that made defensive stops in the second half would be the team that pulled out the win.
Gipson went home as the happier coach.
The RiverHawks held the No. 10 Washburn Ichabods to 48 percent shooting in the second half to pull out an 85-78 win Saturday at Jack Dobbins Field House.
“We told our team at halftime that neither team had stopped each other,” Gipson said. “It was kind of a game where every team had scored. We told our team that the first team that could get some consecutive stops was the team that was gonna win. I thought we did a good job in the second half, we did a better job defensively.”
While the Ichabods shot 58.3 percent (14 of 24) in the first half compared to NSU’s 50 percent (10 of 20), they only led by 32-31 heading into the locker room. The RiverHawks took Gipson’s words to heart, holding Washburn to 44.4 percent shooting (4 for 9) through the first 10 minutes of the half while converting 63.6 percent (7 of 11) of their shots to grab a 54-48 lead with 9:42 remaining.
NSU’s Jermaine Bransford had a big hand in the second half defense as his main objective was to stop Washburn’s Bobby Chipman. Bransford finished the game with 10 points and 12 rebounds, nine of which came in the second half while holding Chipman to four points and two rebounds before fouling out with 6:20 remaining after Chipman posted eight points and three rebounds in the first stanza
“I felt like I was playing a little soft in the first half,” Bransford said. “He’s a pretty strong guy but as soon as he got in foul trouble, I was able to do my thing.”
Bransford was one of four players to reach double figures in scoring for NSU (12-4, 5-3 MIAA) with Bryton Hobbs leading the way with a game-high 25 points while Ethan Anderson and Jon miller had 16 and 14 points, respectively.