---James Cripe jams down a second-half basket during NKU’s 63-61 loss to Southern Indiana in the championship game of the GLVC Tournament. Cripe finished with four points and two blocks.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - For 38 minutes Sunday afternoon, Northern Kentucky University took care of the ball, executed its offense and made enough big plays to win the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament championship.

But in the final two minutes, Southern Indiana took advantage of a pair of NKU turnovers and a missed block-out assignment for an offensive rebound to rally for a 63-61 victory over the Norse in Roberts Stadium.

The Screaming Eagles – holding a 62-61 lead in the closing seconds of the game - also had to sweat out a last-second shot attempt by NKU’s Billy Finnell, who missed a driving, off-balance shot from the right side of the lane. Finnell's shot attempt hit the side of the backboard and was rebounded by Rashard Sullivan.

NKU fouled Kenny Love with 0.1 seconds remaining, and he made the second of two free throws to extend Southern Indiana’s lead to 63-61. The Norse attempted a full-court pass that was intercepted, and 14th-ranked Southern Indiana escaped with the victory.

“We had plenty of opportunities to win, but we let them get a couple of offensive rebounds late and they turned them into baskets. You can’t beat Southern Indiana like that,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said. “I thought we were going to win, but our guys gave a great effort against an outstanding Southern Indiana team. We just made a few mistakes, especially after we built the big lead.”

NKU (22-8) built a 56-46 lead with 9:52 remaining on Harrison Morton's
basket, but Southern Indiana countered with a 12-3 run to cut the Norse advantage to 59-58 with 2:11 left. Screaming Eagle guard Kenny Page, generously listed as 5-foot-9, capped the run by grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring while being fouled.

He converted the free throw, and NKU’s lead was down to a point.

After Morton made a pair of free throws with 1:52 left to extend NKU’s lead to 61-58, Southern Indiana turned the ball over and the Norse appeared on their way to winning the GLVC title for the second time in four years. Finnell, however, had a pass stolen by Love, who raced down the floor for a layup that brought Southern Indiana to within 61-60 with 1:17 remaining.

---Harrison Morton hits a shot against Southern Indiana on Sunday. Morton finished with 14 points and four rebounds.

NKU still owned that lead with less than a minute remaining when Sullivan missed a short jumper. Page, however, again worked his way inside for an offensive rebound and tipped in the miss to give Southern Indiana a 62-61 advantage with 34 seconds on the clock.

“You have to block out and keep them from getting offensive rebounds, especially after we played good defense and made Sullivan miss inside,” Bezold said.

NKU called timeout with 29 seconds remaining and, after running the clock down to 11 seconds, Finnell attacked the basket from the right side of the court. The sophomore guard’s shot was contested by Page and Sullivan, and the ball never reached the rim after hitting the side of the backboard.

The partisan Southern Indiana crowd of 2,804 let out a collective sigh of relief, and the Screaming Eagles won the GLVC Tournament championship for the second time in three years.

Steven Wright led NKU with 17 points and seven rebounds. Morton added 14 points for the Norse, while Anthony Teague chipped in 10 points. Wright and Teague were named to the GLVC’s All-Tournament team.

Melvin Hall led USI (28-5) with 14 points and was named the tournament's most outstanding player. Page finished with 12 points, while Sullivan added 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.

NKU entered Sunday as the No. 1 seed from the GLVC East Division, while Southern Indiana was the GLVC West Division champion and No. 1 seed. It marked the second time this season Southern Indiana knocked off NKU in Evansville, Ind.

NKU received a berth as the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Division II Tournament late Sunday night and will meet No. 5 Drury (21-8) in the Great Lakes Regional, which will be hosted by Findlay (28-1). The eight-team regional will begin play next Saturday at Findlay, Ohio, with times to be announced Monday afternoon.

NKU and Drury have split two meetings this season. Drury knocked off NKU, 78-69, last month at Springfield, Mo., and the Norse rallied to eliminate the Panthers from the GLVC Tournament semifinals, 69-62, on Saturday at Evansville, Ind. The NKU/Drury winner will possibly get a shot at top-seeded Findlay, which has won 58 consecutive home games - the longest streak in the nation at any level in the NCAA. The Oilers meet eighth-seeded Wisconsin-Parkside (19-12) in the first round.

NKU is making its first trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament since the 2002-03 season.

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