(left) goes for a steal
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - A
month ago, Dave Bezold said Southern Illinois at Edwardsville was
the quickest team that Northern Kentucky University had faced this
That came after the
second-year NKU head coach watched SIUE post a 68-59 win over his
Norse on Feb. 2 at Edwardsville, Ill.
The Cougars displayed
that same quickness and speed during a 78-74 win over NKU in the
opening round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament on
Friday. SIUE used its lightning-quick perimeter players to shoot
57.4 percent from the field, and the Cougars held off a late NKU
rally to advance to the GLVC semifinals.
“We kept battling
back, but they just shot it so well. We had to go small because
of their quickness, and they really attacked the basket well,”
Bezold said. “We felt like we made them take some tough shots,
but they did a great job of making plays.
“The fact they
shot 57 percent from the field and we still had a chance to win
says a lot. On a normal night, we win this game, but SIUE played
well and we came up a bit short.”
Harrison Morton scored
26 points to keep NKU (17-11) close. The sophomore forward from
Lexington, Ky., drained five 3-point shots and finished 9-for-15
from the field.
“He knows it’s
tournament time, and Harrison is a fierce competitor,” Bezold
said. “Without him, we had no chance to win. Harrison was
outstanding, and he’s a young player who is just going to
SIUE (22-6) shot 60 percent from the field in the first half to
take a 36-27 advantage at the break. Morton scored 15 in the opening
half for the Norse, who shot just 37.5 percent from the field before
SIUE extended its lead to 48-34 with 14:32 remaining in the game,
but NKU countered with a 20-8 run to pull within 56-54 on a conventional
three-point play by Kevin Reinhardt. The Norse later made it a one-point
game (64-63) when Reinhardt hit a 3-point shot with 4:21 left.
J.B. Jones, however, countered with a 17-foot jumper to extend
the SIUE advantage to 66-63, and Anthony Jones finished off a fast
break with a layup to make it 68-63 with 3:32 remaining. The Cougars
appeared to have sealed the win with 21 seconds left when J.B. Jones
converted a pair of free throws for a 74-67 lead, but NKU would
rally one last time.
Reinhardt made a 3-pointer
while being fouled with 16.7 seconds remaining, and he added the
free throw to bring NKU within 74-71. J.B. Jones responded by sinking
two more free throws with 14 seconds left to make it 76-71, but
Morton drained a long 3-pointer from the left corner with 8.1 seconds
on the clock to slice the deficit to 76-74.
J.B. Jones was fouled with 5.8 seconds left, and the sophomore
guard calmly sealed the win by making both free throws. Jones set
a GLVC Tournament record by going 13-for-13 from the line, and he
scored a team-leading 21 points.
Ty Johnson added 16 points for SIUE, which lost to NKU in the GLVC
Tournament semifinals last season. Justin Ward added 14 off the
Reinhardt scored 23 points, and Scott Bibbins finished with 11
points off the bench. Bibbins made all four of his attempts from
us some energy and spark, and I’m proud of the way our entire
team battled back,” Bezold said.
NKU, ranked eighth in
the latest NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region poll, will find out
Sunday at 10:30 p.m. if it receives an at-large berth in the NCAA
Division II Tournament.