From Staff reports
Four games into the season and Northeastern State has already had three different scoring leaders. Monday night at Jack Dobbins Field House, it was Marcus Sheppard’s turn.
Sheppard logged a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds to lead the RiverHawks to a 90-45 annihilation of Ecclesia.
“I’m really happy to see Marcus Sheppard play well because he’s been struggling,” NSU coach Larry Gipson said. “He’s shown a lot of brilliance in flashes and in practice, but he hasn’t been comfortable in games. We’ve just been waiting and hoping that he would have a breakout night where he can get some confidence.”
That’s what happened against Ecclesia. The 6-foot-4 junior from Vivian, La., missed only two shots all night, going 9 of 11 from the field.
Bryton Hobbs (15) and Ethan Anderson (11) also scored in double figures for the RiverHawks, who improved their record to 4-0.
The 45-point decision for NSU was its largest margin of victory since beating Hillsdale 99-37 in 2009.
“The big thing we were looking for tonight was an improvement in our defensive play, especially in our defensive rebounding,” Gipson said.
Consider it a success in both areas against Ecclesia. The RiverHawks out-rebounded Ecclesia 44-23 and only allowed eight offensive rebounds. NSU also limited Ecclesia to 28.3 percent (17 of 60) shooting.
“We gave up 19 offensive rebounding to Central Bible College and I thought that was entirely too many,” Gipson said. “That’s something we have to shore up, and I think we did a much better job of that with only allowing eight to Ecclesia.”
The RiverHawks blistered the nets by shooting 40 of 60 (66.7 percent) from the field and 7 of 13 (63.8 percent) from behind the 3-point arc.
Brandon Brzozkiewicz led Ecclesia with 18 points on 6 of 15 shooting. Rashad Colbert added 13 points for Ecclesia.
NSU’s next game will be Saturday at Northwest Oklahoma State, which the RiverHawks beat 78-73 earlier this season.
“Northwestern Oklahoma State is an excellent basketball team, and you can see that by how they went on the road to Fort Hays State last Saturday and beat a team that is one of the top five teams in our league,” Gipson said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”