Morton goes to the basket
Ky. - Instant offense off the bench.
what Northern Kentucky University has in Kevin Schappell and Mark
Hawkins, a pair of shooters who can effectively launch 3-pointers
with anyone. And when NKU needs a lift offensively, head coach Dave
Bezold knows where to turn.
With his team
trailing 12-2 early in the first half against Bellarmine on Saturday
night, Bezold inserted Schappell and Hawkins into the game. They
responded by combining for 24 points before halftime - including
six 3-pointers - as NKU rallied to post a 75-63 win over Bellarmine.
with a game-high 23 points, while Hawkins finished with 12 points.
Hawkins drained a trio of key 3-pointers to shift the momentum in
the first half. Schappell used 6-for-7 shooting from the field during
the opening 20 minutes to spark NKU before an enthusiastic Homecoming
crowd of 1,408.
really fortunate enough to have our bench come in and be very productive
with Mark Hawkins, Kevin Schappell and Harrison Morton, and even
Scottie Bibbins, to steady the ship after we were sinking early,”
Bezold said. “They came in and hit some big shots, rallied
us and got us the momentum that carried into halftime.”
NKU (13-5 overall,
8-2 Great Lakes Valley Conference) took a 33-29 lead into the break
and started off the second half with an 11-4 run to extend its advantage
to 44-33. Aaron Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers to key the spurt,
while Bibbins also added a trey in the run.
The Norse led
by as many as 14 points in the second half as Billy Finnell scored
nine of his 15 points. Finnell, a freshman guard, also dished out
four assists and grabbed five rebounds.
“(Billy) is so
solid, and I just hope we don’t wear him out because he plays
a ton of minutes,” Bezold said. “But hopefully, we don’t
wear him out and he can continue to give us that consistent performance
that he has been giving us.”
Morton finished with
nine points and seven rebounds for NKU, which shot 51.1 percent
from the field. The Norse were 11-for-23 from 3-point range and
had 14 assists as a team, led by David McFarland’s five assists.
Schappell hits a 3-pointer
“Nobody has egos
on this team, and that’s what’s good about this team.
It’s not about stats. All we care about is winning,”
Schappell said. “Coach (Bezold) told (Gavin Ludgood) he was
going to have to have a better game next time. Gavin’s answer
was, ‘I don’t care, coach. We won. That’s all
just how this team’s attitude is. Nobody cares about stats,
and that is why we always make the extra pass. We don’t care
about scoring; we just care about winning.”
The victory enabled
NKU to move into a first-place tie with Saint Joseph’s in
the GLVC East Division. The Pumas suffered a 98-67 drubbing at Southern
Indiana earlier on Saturday.
Matt Miller led Bellarmine
(9-10 overall, 6-5 GLVC) with 20 points. Matt Otte added 12 points
and seven rebounds for the Knights, who have lost 12 consecutive
times in Regents Hall.
last victory in Regents Hall came on Feb. 3, 1994, when the Knights
pulled out a last-second 73-72 win over the Norse.
“We knew going
into this game that Bellarmine is one of the best teams at stopping
the basketball,” Bezold said. “They weren’t going
to let you drive to the hole. They collapse so hard to stop the
ball. We knew we were going to have to stop, kick it back out and
“We were lucky
that we got it going. Mark Hawkins, Kevin Schappell and Aaron Smith,
our best shooters, were knocking them down.”
NKU will take its four-game
winning streak on the road, with the first stop being at Southern
Illinois at Edwardsville on Thursday night. SIUE enters that contest
with an 11-game winning streak, and the Cougars have beaten NKU
four straight times in the regular season.
NKU did knock off the
Cougars in the GLVC Tournament last season at Evansville, Ind.