HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — The National Park College (NPC) Nighthawks basketball teams split their NJCAA Region II home games against Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) on Thursday, with the Nighthawk women (5-10) falling, 69-60, and the Nighthawk Men (12-4) picking up a 80-64 victory.
Against the No. 14-ranked Lady Rockets, NPC surged early—taking a 16-11 lead over SAU Tech through the first quarter. Fueled by much-improved shooting and nine first-half points from freshman Kayla Richardson (Grannis), NPC staved off a barrage of SAU Tech three pointers to take a 32-29 lead at halftime.
In a third quarter filled with lead changes, SAU Tech utilized strong three-point shooting to pull ahead. With the Lady Rockets leading, 46-44, after three quarters, SAU Tech outscored NPC, 10-0, to open the fourth quarter. Despite a nine-point fourth quarter effort from sophomore India Atkins (Bryant), it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback, delivering NPC’s second-consecutive NJCAA loss.
Atkins led the Nighthawks in scoring with 17 points, with Richardson providing 15 points in the loss.
A 9-0 NPC run from the opening tipoff set the tempo early in men’s action. Holding the Rockets’ prolific offense to just two points through the first five minutes, NPC flourished, defensively, by holding its opponent to tough shots beyond the arc and funneling offensive opportunities through the paint. SAU Tech bounced back midway through the first half to pull within one point, but the Nighthawks kept their cool en route to a 32-23 halftime lead.
The Nighthawks kept their foot on the gas in the second half, paced by strong three-point shooting from freshman Garett Powell (Springboro, OH) and a 14-point second-half explosion from sophomore Kam Vick (Little Rock). Matching SAU Tech shot-for-shot, the Nighthawks cruised to their second-consecutive NJCAA Region II victory over the final 20 minutes, defeating the Rockets for the first time in school history.
Powell led the Nighthawks in scoring with 20 points. Vick and freshman JoQuarius Valrie (Houston, TX) added 18 and 12 points, respectively, while sophomore Jaylen O’Conner (Oklahoma City, OK) contributed 11 points in the win.
“It’s a big one for us,” NPC sophomore guard Kam Vick said. “We wanted to send a statement that we are the real deal. We meant what we said when we said we had unfinished business when our guys came back. That’s the message we wanted to send and I’m glad we did.”
The Nighthawks continue NJCAA Region II play on Saturday, Jan. 15 against ASU-Mid South in West Memphis. The women tip off at 2 p.m. followed by the men at 4 p.m.