drives to the basket
Ky. - One of the keys to earning a berth in the NCAA Division II
Tournament is winning conference games at home.
That in itself
made Thursday night’s home game against Lewis extremely important
for Northern Kentucky University, which began the evening ranked
fourth in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region poll. The Norse
were also in second place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East,
one game ahead of both Lewis and Wisconsin-Parkside.
Thanks to some
clutch 3-point shooting in the second half Thursday night, not to
mention outstanding play from its bench, NKU has built a two-game
lead over both Lewis and Wisconsin-Parkside.
came off the bench and hit a trio of 3-pointers in the second half
as NKU rallied for a 59-54 win over Lewis. The Norse improved to
11-5 overall, 6-2 in the GLVC.
“It was a tough, tough basketball game. Lewis plays great
man-to-man defense, and they don’t allow you to get into a
flow offensively,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said. “It’s
hard to watch sometimes from the stands because it’s a smash-mouth
game, and it’s not very pretty.
“We’d get up, they’d get up, and we made the
plays at the end.”
Lewis (10-6, 4-4 GLVC)
held a 38-31 lead with 13:28 left in the game, but Hawkins connected
on two consecutive 3-pointers to bring NKU within 38-37. Moments
later, Harrison Morton drained a 3-pointer from the left corner
to give the Norse a 40-38 lead.
“Mark Hawkins, Harrison Morton and Travis Rasso came in and
gave us a huge lift, and offensively they were so important in the
second half,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said. “Then,
Scottie Bibbins gave us a big, big spark in the last seven minutes.”
hits a 3-pointer
After Lewis regained
the lead at 45-43 with 8:31 left, David McFarland hit a 3-pointer
to give NKU a 46-45 advantage. With NKU holding a 47-46 lead, Bibbins
drove the lane and made a basket while being fouled. He converted
the free throw to extend the Norse advantage to 50-46 with 6:05
left in the game.
Hawkins later hit another
3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to give the Norse a 55-48
lead with 2:14 remaining. Kevin Schappell sealed the victory for
NKU by making four free throws in the final 17 seconds.
Billy Finnell scored
12 points and grabbed seven rebounds for NKU, which is surprising
those who expected a rebuilding year.
“I think we are
young, so people didn’t expect much of us,” Finnell
said. “But, I can see how people could see us as overachieving.
“Not ours, because
we expect to win. But not a lot of other people do. From another
person’s perspective, I can see how they could think that.”
Rasso blocked four shots and grabbed seven rebounds for the Norse.
He also added a key tip-in during the second half. The NKU bench
contributed 32 points on Thursday.
up when they got on the court,” Finnell said. “We worked
hard, and our effort was there the whole game. Travis
Rasso stepped up and played some great defense. Mark Hawkins hit
three big threes. It was just a team effort.”
NKU will play host to
Wisconsin-Parkside - which lost at Bellarmine on Thursday night
- at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.