#23 Randy July (Muscogee Creek) / File Photo by Haskell Athletics Department.
LAWRENCE, KANSAS – An exclamation slam dunk with 3 seconds left in the game by senior guard Randy July, on a pass from newcomer Duelle Gore, summed up the night for the Haskell Indian Nations University men’s basketball team as the two combined for 54 points in a 94-87 win over the 12th ranked College of the Ozarks.
Randy July (Muscogee Creek) had a team high of 33 points and game-high 5 steals on the night while newcomer Duelle Gore (Seminole tribe of Florida) added 21 points for his debut with the Indian squad who had only previously won two games on the season but now move to (1-0) in conference play.
“It feels good to get the win, we came out in attack mode really, the first half we kind of started out a little slow but in the second halve we picked it up and locked in on defense.” said July.
In that first half, Haskell got out to a small early lead but the #12th ranked Ozarks soon got into a hot shooting streak which included making nine 3-pointers that helped put a 12 point lead on the Indians at the midway point in the half. But the Indians came out with the mind set of conference being a new season for them, with the addition of Gore and Dominic Tiger-Cortez (6 points), they would battle back in the remaining ten minutes to close the gap to 44-47 going in at half time.
The Indians shot 54% from the field in that first half, with the Gore making 11 of of his 21 points in the half, to the Ozarks 50% from the field. The Ozarks squad got to the charity stripe 11 more times than Haskell did and the Indians only made two 3-pointers in the half.
In the second half, it would become a game of runs for both the Indians and Bobcats as they would exchange leads 6 times between each other and tie each other 7 times and like in the first half the Ozarks jumped out to another lead behind the hot 3-point shooting of Ozarks player Ethan Murray who finished with a game high 36 points.
The Haskell men fought back into to the game and took a seven point lead behind Tsalidi Sequoyah’s 14 rebounds, with 11 of them on the defensive end. Sequoyah added 12 points and would be Haskell only player with a double-double on the night.
Ozarks closed the gap to four points with less than 2 minutes left in the game but Haskell would knock down free throws the rest of the way to seal their victory over a ranked opponent in at least five years.
After the game, Gore said, “It feels good just to be back in it, just to get back and work with everybody. You see all the hard work everybody is putting in is finally starting to pay off. Tonight, I just looked to score whenever I can and help the scoring load a little with Randy.”
Head Coach Chad Kills crow said, “It was a hard fought game, the game plan was to to come in and (figuratively speaking) hit them in the mouth early. We needed to get a lead early and hang on to that lead, unfortunately, we weren’t able to do to that, it was back and forth, it was close but we did the best we could to hang on the lead and fortunately we got a couple of players back that really helped and Randy played well and Tsalidi played well and fortunately the game plan worked for us.”
The Haskell Indians will only be able to savor this victory for a short while as they will take on the next conference oppoenent on Saturday, January 17th at 5:00 PM against Central Baptist College. Coverage of the game can be found on the Haskell athletics website at (www.haskellathletics.com)
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in NDNSports.com. Used with permission. All rights reserved.