CLAREMORE — No. 8 Rogers State couldn’t hold onto a lead that grew to 21 points in the first half as Northwest Missouri State came back to claim a 71-68 victory over the Hillcats inside the Claremore Expo Saturday afternoon.
The Hillcats’ Leah Smith was unable to connect on a corner 3-pointer with a Bearcat bearing down on her and one second remaining in the game, as Northwest gave RSU its second loss of the season.
In the opening stanza of play the Hillcats missed just six shots from the field but the second half saw the reverse as RSU made just six field goals.
The RSU held a 40-19 lead with under six minutes remaining in the first half. But Northwest closed out the first half on a 14-5 run trailing Hillcat coach Roxanne Long’s squad 45-33 at the half.
RSU saw its halftime lead trimmed in half over the first seven minutes of the second half. Northwest took the lead for just the second time in the game with 5:59 to go up 63-62. From that point the lead changed hands five times before Monique Stevens layup put Northwest ahead 69-68 with 52 seconds remaining.
An offensive foul by the Hillcats gave the ball back to Northwest with 49 seconds remaining. The Bearcats were able to pull in the offensive board off a Stevens miss and Maggie Marnin laid it in with 16 seconds to go for what would be the go-ahead bucket giving Northwest the 71-68 victory.
Northwest Missouri State (5-2) won the battle of the boards 33-31 over RSU. The Bearcats, led by Meridee Scott with 17 points, committed just four turnovers in the second half after 12 in the first period. The Bearcats shot a lowly 41.2 percent from the charity stripe on 17 trips to the line.
RSU committed 20 turnovers with just eight assists as the Hillcats shot 45.8 percent for the game. The Hillcats shot 89.5 percent on free throws making 19 trips. Ariani Silva made her second start of the season and responded with a team high 17 points. Smith had 14 points for the Hillcats despite scoring just two points in the second half. Clarissa Cannon finished with 11 while Kelby Fritz added 10 for RSU. The loss moved the Hillcat women to 0-3 all-time versus NCAA Division II opponents.
Rogers State (7-2) will head north to Peru, Neb. to face Peru State on Monday for a 5:30 p.m. tip time.