drive in the final seconds
Ky. - Billy Finnell has consistently made big plays for Northern
Kentucky University this season, and the freshman guard added another
clutch moment to his list of accomplishments Thursday night in the
closing seconds against Indianapolis.
With the score tied
at 71-all in the final seconds of the game, Finnell found an opening,
drove down the lane and drew a foul. He made two free throws with
3.8 seconds remaining in the game to give NKU a 73-71 lead.
Indianapolis had a final shot, but Scott Strahm’s 35-footer
hit off the side of the rim at the buzzer. NKU improved to 14-7
overall, 9-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
“It was one of
those typical games at home where no matter what, even if we were
up by 20, we were going to make it a close game at the end,”
NKU head coach Dave Bezold said.
“We were sluggish
again in the first half. We had some guys come off the bench and
give us a lift, and then in the second half, we got a run going.
Mark Hawkins, Kevin Schappell, David McFarland and Travis Rasso
gave us a nice cushion.
“And then all
of a sudden, we gave up eight straight points. It’s those
little consistency factors that we’re going to have to get
better at to finish the season off on the road.”
Hawkins scored all 14
of his points in the second half to rally NKU from a six-point deficit.
The sophomore guard made four 3-pointers, including a key trey with
1:39 remaining to give the Norse a 70-66 lead.
Earlier in the second
half, Hawkins scored 11 consecutive points as NKU fought back from
a 40-34 deficit.
led the NKU rally
Rasso added a career-high
14 points for NKU, while Bibbins finished with 13 points and seven
assists for the Norse. Rasso used 7-for-11 shooting from the field
to score his 14 points in 19 minutes of playing time.
“They were letting
me catch the ball, and they were just laying off me so they were
letting me have open lanes to the basket,” Rasso said. “I
just tried to exploit that to help the team any way I could.”
Bezold said Rasso’s
work ethic paid off Thursday night.
“Travis has been playing really well, and it’s a reward
for how hard he’s worked and concentrated and done the little
things,” Bezold said. “He just comes and plays hard
every day, and this is what happens when you do that.”
Indianapolis hung tough
the entire way behind the play of Justin Barnard (19 points, 12
rebounds), Strahm (14 points) and Braxton Mills (15 points). The
Greyhounds led by as many as nine points in the first half.
was 3-18, so they really have nothing to lose and they came out
really loose,” said Bibbins, who made a couple of acrobatic
shots driving to the basket in the second half. “They played
real hard. They really didn’t have anything to lose, so we
had to match their intensity all game.”
NKU shot 53.8
percent from the field and was 9-for-18 from 3-point range. The
Norse also won the rebounding battle by a 30-27 margin.
NKU will play
its home finale at 3:15 p.m. Saturday when Saint Joseph’s
visits Regents Hall. The Pumas (21-2 overall, 11-2 GLVC) are ranked
No. 10 nationally in the NCAA Division II poll.
leads the GLVC East by two games over NKU. Earlier this season on
Dec. 8 at Rensselaer, Ind., a power outage in the Scharf Alumni
Fieldhouse caused the game between NKU and Saint Joseph’s
to be suspended late in the second half.
owned a 57-40 lead with 6:30 remaining in the game when the power
went out in the gym. The Pumas entered the game ranked No. 8 nationally
with a 7-0 record, while NKU was also unbeaten (6-0) at the time.
That game will
be resumed at the point of stoppage on Feb. 22 with Saint Joseph’s
holding a 57-40 lead.