ECU women go cold late in loss to No. 23 Northwestern

Jan. 30—ALVA — The East Central University women's basketball team traveled to Alva on Saturday to face off against No. 23 Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Despite a valiant effort, the Tigers fell short, losing 66-55 inside Percefull Fieldhouse.

East Central fell to 5-11 overall and 1-11 in Great American Conference action, while the Rangers improved to 17-3 and 9-3.

"I am super proud of our effort today," said East Central women's head coach Heather Hurt. "We really competed hard and did a lot of good things. Northwestern has talented players who made us pay when we doubled the post. Tatum stepped up and made shots from the 3 which helped us tremendously."

Havens, who played at Ada High early in her varsity career, made 4-of-7 3-point attempts on her way to 14 points. She also tracked down a team-best seven rebounds.

The game kicked off with a strong start for ECU in the first quarter, led by Havens who nailed two 3-pointers to give the Tigers an early 6-3 lead. ECU's advantage extended to five points at 16-11, but the Rangers managed to close the opening quarter with a 5-0 run during the last minute, knotting the score 16-16.

Both teams remained at a steady pace in the following quarter, exchanging baskets and making crucial shots. A 10-6 run by the Tigers had them ahead 26-22 at the 3:56 mark, but a sudden scoreless streak allowed the Rangers to take a 31-26 lead heading into halftime.

Northwestern carried their momentum into the third quarter, eventually establishing a double-digit lead. However, sharpshooting from Mackenzie Crusoe and points in the paint by Natalie Payne sparked a new life in the Tigers as they trailed 52-45 going into the final frame.

Havens opened the fourth quarter with her fourth 3-pointer of the night, followed by a free throw from Crusoe and a layup from Havens, cutting ECU's deficit to 52-51 with 6:31 left to play.

However, ECU struggled to convert field goals in the final minutes while Northwestern capitalized on free throws down the stretch, allowing the Rangers to secure their lead for the win.

ECU missed six consecutive field goals during one late cold stretch that allowed Northwestern to build a 59-51 lead.

The Tigers were led by Crusoe, who led all scorers with 17 points. Crusoe went 6-for-16 from the floor,

Payton Jones and Faith Simpson scored 17 points each for the host Rangers.

Northwestern ended the game 24-of-31 from the free-throw line, while East Central finished just 2-of-8 from the stripe.

The ECU women's basketball team has a pair of home games this week, hosting Harding on Thursday and hosting Arkansas Tech on Saturday.

Note: Ada News sports editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.