NORFOLK, Neb. – The Northeast Community College men’s basketball team took a seven-point lead into halftime and never looked back, topping Ellsworth Community College 76-68 on Wednesday night at the Cox Activities Center in Norfolk.
Evan Decker (Omaha, Neb.) gave the Hawks (1-0, 1-0 ICCAC) a nine-point cushion after sinking a 3-pointer early in the first half. Both teams started slow out of the gate; however, Decker sank a shot from beyond the arc to put the Hawks up 14-5. The Hawk’s stout defensive effort held the Panthers to only 20 points in the first 15 minutes. Grant Stec (Ainsworth, Neb.) and Jared Lopez (Lincoln, Neb.) hit back-to-back 3-pointers with under three minutes play to push the Northeast lead to eight points.
Coming out of halftime, Trey Drummond III (Huxley, Iowa) buried a deep 3-pointer to give Northeast a 36-28 edge. The Hawks held off the Panthers midway through the second half, thanks to another 3-pointer from Decker. Ellsworth began to make a small comeback, but two critical free throws from Stec with 5:37 to play gave the Hawks a five-point cushion. Newcomer Ben Tew (Cheshire, England) went to work in the paint and hit a shot off the glass that sparked the Hawks’ offense. Lopez and Michael Anderson (Lincoln, Neb.) hit crucial layups with under a minute to play, while Devin Ross (Cartersville, Ga.) was fouled twice in the final minute and made four free throws that put the game out of reach for Ellsworth.
Decker led the Hawks with 17 points and four rebounds. Lopez added 14 points and five boards, while Anderson nearly had a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. Tew and Ross added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Hawks hit the road to take on Kirkwood Community College at 3 p.m. Saturday for an ICCAC contest in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.