Mon, 12 Apr 2021

Tulsa hosts Northeastern State in game that counts

Field Level Media
04 Mar 2021, 07:40 GMT+10

It's a bit of a riddle: When is a game both an exhibition and a regular-season contest?

Answer: When it's the Northeastern State RiverHawks visit the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Thursday afternoon.

The game will be an exhibition for NSU (5-17), which has already concluded its season, at least officially.

But for Tulsa (10-11), this is a regular-season game. This should help Tulsa prepare for the American Athletic Conference tournament, which is set for March 11-14 at Fort Worth, Texas.

Tulsa originally had a game set for Sunday at SMU. However, that game was canceled due to a suspension of activities at SMU.

The Golden Hurricane is on a two-game losing streak, and coach Frank Haith would love to grab a victory and some momentum before the AAC tournament begins.

Tulsa's most recent game was a 73-69 loss at Central Florida on Tuesday. The Golden Hurricane trailed by 16 at halftime but played well after intermission. Still, 12 first-half turnovers were too much to overcome.

"We were real timid," said Haith, whose team turned the ball over just twice in the second half. "We dug ourselves a hole in the first half. In the second half, we executed better.

"I can't fault how hard our guys fought in the second half."

The good news for Tulsa is that its top nine players appear to be healthy. That includes Brandon Rachal, who leads the team in scoring (14.6), rebounds (7.0), steals (1.5) and blocks (0.8).

Elijah Joiner leads Tulsa in assists (3.6) while ranking second in scoring (11.3) and rebounds (4.3).

But the Golden Hurricane have not won consecutive games since Jan. 6, when they completed a six-game win streak. Other than that, they have not won consecutive games all season.

NSU, which is 4-16 all-time against Tulsa, earned a 78-76 win over Rogers State in its most recent game, which was played at home on Saturday.

The RiverHawks, an NCAA Division II program, led for fewer than three minutes in that game, rallying from a 15-point deficit to secure the victory.

"It's been a tough year," NSU coach Ja Havens said after the win over Rogers State. "But we won our last two home games against good teams. I'm proud of our guys."

Now the RiverHawks get one more chance to suit up this season in a game that doesn't count ... and yet it does.

--Field Level Media

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