HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — The National Park College (NPC) Nighthawks basketball teams split their NJCAA Region II home opener against North Arkansas College on Saturday, with the Nighthawk women (5-9) falling, 77-52, and the Nighthawk Men (11-4) picking up a 91-71 victory.
Despite holding the Lady Pioneers to just two points over the first four minutes, the Nighthawk women struggled to overcome a slow offensive start early, falling behind, 17-9 after the first quarter. NPC found its rhythm in the second quarter, spreading the scoring to seven different players, but were unable to stop North Arkansas, defensively, en route to a 35-25 deficit at halftime.
In the second half, sophomore India Atkins (Bryant) led NPC’s comeback attempt with a 10-point third quarter, but the Lady Pioneers managed to keep pace with five third-quarter three pointers. In the fourth quarter, North Arkansas College outscored the Nighthawks, 16-10, to end NPC’s three-game winning streak.
Atkins led the Nighthawks in scoring with 18 points, while freshman Kayla Richardson (Grannis) added 11 points in the loss.
In a battle between conference rivals, the Nighthawk men and Pioneers kept things close for the majority of the first half. Behind timely three-pointers from sophomores Jaylen O’Conner (Oklahoma City, OK) and Sayvon Traylor (Atlanta, GA), the Nighthawks began distancing themselves from the Pioneers with five minutes remaining in the half. Behind perfect free throw shooting and holding the Pioneers to just one three pointer, defensively, NPC soared to a 43-32 lead at the half.
In the second half, the Pioneers threatened a comeback, cutting the deficit to five points with 10 minutes remaining. An impressive 15-point second-half effort from sophomore Rodrique Massenat (Trenton, NJ) kept North Arkansas College at bay, however, propelling the Nighthawks to their first NJCAA Region II win of the season and avenging last season’s postseason loss to the Pioneers.
Massenat led the Nighthawks in scoring with 23 points. Traylor and O’Conner added 19 and 18 points, respectively, while freshmen Kylil Anderson (Fort Worth, TX) and Garett Powell (Springboro, OH) contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the win.
The Nighthawks play host to Southern Arkansas University Tech in NJCAA Region II play on Thursday, Jan. 13 in the Kettle. The women tip off at 5 p.m. followed by the men at 7 p.m. The games will be streamed live on the Nighthawk Network.
From NPC Nighthawks Communications staff reports