TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Lady Rattlers hit the road hard Monday, braking to face the No. 8-ranked team in the nation, Northeastern State, but couldn’t switch gears quick enough to give the nationally ranked team its second loss of the season.
Northeastern State earned its reputation fittingly, having a near-perfect record of 17-1. The Riverhawks earned the non-conference victory over the Rattlers (8-13, 3-2 in conference) by a margin of seven, 54-47, when their victories usually come in double-digits and topping off at 31 – meaning, the Rattlers didn’t come without a fight.
“Tonight we saw things that we needed to work on,” says freshman Chesney Neely (Goldthwaite, Texas), “but we also saw things that we did really well.”
DeAnna Patterson (Sr., Converse, Texas) led the Rattlers Monday with 18 points, including four big 3-pointers. Bria Bell (So., Mesquite, Texas) followed with 10 points and eight rebounds and Neely added another five with eight rebounds.
The Riverhawks’ 17th win for the season didn’t come lightly.
The Rattlers challenged Northeastern State evenly in the first half, staying close in points. A post move from Bell in the paint with a second remaining brought the Rattlers within one of the Riverhawks, 22-21, before the half.
The Rattlers gained their second wind in the second half, gaining a lead of six five minutes in. The lead was challenged and the game repeated the first half with both teams fighting for the lead.
The Riverhawks then displayed their No. 8 nationally ranked status, slowly pulling away from the Rattlers with Taylor Lewis hitting 10 of her 19 points in the second and sinking a trio of 3-pointers for the final score, 54-47.
With the Rattlers now heavy in Heartland Conference play, Monday served as a break from facing contenders for the conference championship and ended up being further preparation for the seven remaining games of the season that will determine who advances to the tournament.
“We proved to ourselves that we can play with anybody that steps on the floor with us,” says Neely of the nationally ranked Riverhawks, “and so I think that helps to carry over to Thursday’s game that we can get out there and win.”
The Lady Rattlers start their five-game home stretch and get right back into conference play against Texas A&M International this Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Bill Greehey Arena at 7:30 p.m.