keyed NKU’s comeback
Ky. - A huge second-half run carried Northern Kentucky University
to an 81-71 upset over sixth-ranked Findlay on Friday night in the
John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic in Regents Hall.
The Norse used
the scoring of Vincent Humphrey and Kevin Schappell to fuel the
rally, which featured a 21-3 run that turned a 52-42 deficit into
a 63-55 advantage with 6:34 remaining. Humphrey, a sophomore forward,
netted 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half.
all 14 of his points in the second half, including a pair clutch
3-pointers during the Norse’s decisive run. The 6-foot-3 junior
also grabbed five rebounds and made all four free throws he attempted.
guard Billy Finnell scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half
to key the NKU comeback. The Purcell Marian graduate drilled a pair
of 3-point shots and finished with five assists.
came in and did a tremendous job offensively in settling up our
team,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said. “(Findlay point
guard) Dustin Pfeifer was in control of the game. They scored 15
points in the first five minutes, and Billy neutralized that.
hit a big three in the second half to get our momentum, and then
Billy had a big steal. Those guys really helped to turn the tide.
And Vincent Humphrey had one solid game for us.”
Findlay, ranked No.
6 in the Division II Bulletin preseason poll, built a 48-37 lead
on a 3-pointer by Tyler Evans with 14:18 remaining in the game.
Humphrey, however, was fouled while attempting a trey and made all
three free throws to bring NKU within eight points (48-40).
With Findlay holding
a 52-42 lead, NKU started its run. Schappell drained a 3-pointer
off an assist from Finnell to cut the lead to 52-45. Finnell made
a jumper to bring the Norse within 52-47, and Humphrey later hit
a pair of free throws to make it 52-49 with 11:49 left.
drains a 3-pointer
A 3-pointer by Josh
Bostic pushed Findlay’s lead back to 55-49, but Finnell countered
by hitting a long 3-pointer to make it 55-52. After Findlay’s
Frank Phillips missed a short jumper, Finnell was fouled going for
He hit both free throws
to bring the Norse within 55-54.
Moments later, Schappell
chased down an offensive rebound after a Humphrey miss and threw
it out to Finnell. The freshman point guard drew two defenders and
found Schappell for an open 3-pointer in the right corner.
Schappell drained the
shot to give NKU a 57-55 advantage with 9:18 remaining, and the
Norse would not trail again. Schappell capped the spurt by making
a jumper with 3:37 left to give NKU a 69-57 lead.
Gavin Ludgood finished
with 10 points and five rebounds for NKU, which beat the No. 6 team
in the Division II poll for the second straight year on opening
night. Last season, the Norse upset sixth-ranked Michigan Tech,
55-53, in their opener.
“We played well
as a team. We came together in the second half,” Finnell said.
“We were down, fought back hard, and everything was a team
effort. I was able to get into the lane and dish. That’s my
Kevin Reinhardt pulled
down 10 rebounds for NKU, which won the battle of the boards by
a 38-23 margin. The Norse shot 54.5 percent from the field in the
second half to rally for the win.
Findlay, which posted
a 30-4 record last season, was led by Brent Schnipke’s 17
points. Pfeifer had nine points and six assists for the Oilers,
while Bostic added 13 points.
“We were very
fortunate in the first half to be in the game, because we had 13
turnovers and shot 30 percent from the field,” said Bezold,
who is in his second season as NKU’s head coach. “By
only being down two points we felt like this was a game we should
win. We could have gone into the locker room down 10 or more.”
NKU will play Saginaw
Valley State at 7:45 p.m. Saturday in Regents Hall. Saginaw Valley
State dropped an 82-69 decision to Christian Brothers in the first
game Friday night.
Findlay will meet Christian
Brothers at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the round-robin format.