Bronchos Soar Past Riverhawks

Bronchos Soar Past Riverhawks

Senior center Jake Hammond, No. 12, shoots the ball during a game against Northeastern State University on Saturday, Jan. 20 in Hamilton Field House. (Gerald Leong/The Vista)

The University of Central Oklahoma men’s basketball team cruised past the Northeastern State RiverHawks on Saturday, 87-60, in an all-around effort.

After a slow start, the Bronchos went on a 9-0 run in the first half, starting with a Jordan Hemphill 3-pointer. Shortly after, Northeastern State went on their own 9-0 run. A Marqueese Grayson 3-pointer quickly deflated the RiverHawks momentum.

The Bronchos would lead the rest of the game.  Head coach Tom Hankins commended his team’s execution defensively.

“We worked for a couple of days figuring out the best way to guard them, and our guys did a phenomenal job,” Hankins said.

The combination of Anthony Roberson and Jordan Hemphill held the RiverHawks leading scorer, Jamir Andrews, to just four points in the game.

Northeastern State fought back at the end of the half, cutting the deficit to five with just under two minutes to go. Hemphill hit two 3-pointers in the final minutes of the half, including one at the buzzer, to give the Bronchos a 40-30 lead into halftime.

The Bronchos started the half with five straight points from Kole Talbott, to extend their lead to 15. Northeastern’s Trent Cantrell tried to mount a second half comeback by hitting back to back three’s, but the Broncho’s defense held strong. The Bronchos held the RiverHawks to just 3-18 from behind the 3-point line.

Coach Hankins said he was very pleased with his team’s defense on the perimeter.

“We definitely stressed perimeter defense this game,” Hankins said. “We did a great job of keeping them from making three’s.”

After a 71-69 loss at Emporia State last week, Coach Hankins said he was satisfied with his team’s defensive effort against Northeastern.

“My philosophy is you’re going to have nights where you don’t score it well, but if you can defend and rebound every night, you’ll always have a chance to win,” Hankins said.

The Bronchos led by as much as 27, shooting 52.8 percent overall. UCO finished with three players scoring in double digits, including Hemphill, Grayson and Corbin Byford. The trio combined for 48 points, all coming off the bench.

“It really helps when you can bring your guys in like that and give your team a boost off the bench,” Hankins said.

Hemphill scored 20 points on only six shots, finishing 4-5 from 3-point territory. Grayson had 15 points of his own, and distributed the ball, finishing with a team-high six assists. Byford’s 13 points also contributed to the double digit win over the Riverhawks.

The Bronchos next game is against conference rival Pittsburg State on Jan. 25.

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