Cripe slams down two of his 10 points during the first half
of NKU’s 73-68 win over Drury on Saturday night. Cripe
also blocked three shots and pulled down 10 rebounds for the
- After his team defeated Drury by a 73-68 score Saturday night
in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament, Northern
Kentucky University head coach Dave Bezold made an interesting confession
in the post-game news conference.
Earlier in the
week, Bezold said he was concerned about his team’s emotional
state after dropping a gut-wrenching 63-61 decision to Southern
Indiana in the championship game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference
Tournament. But it would appear the third-year NKU head coach was
only trying to mask his own anxiety.
back after our loss to Southern Indiana, I think it was my emotional
state I was most worried about,” Bezold said after his team
advanced to the regional semifinals. “I have four great seniors,
and a loss doesn’t faze them. It was my own fears, because
as tough as these players are, I should have had more faith in them.
they would be ready for Drury, and our seniors were outstanding
As is usually
the case, senior guard Steven Wright put on a show for the crowd
in Croy Gymnasium with a game-high 26 points, including a pair of
3-pointers to give NKU an early 6-0 lead. Billy Finnell followed
with a jumper to make it 8-0, forcing Drury to call a timeout just
2:21 into the game.
A rebound basket
by Kevin Schappell extended NKU’s lead to 20-11 with 11:19
remaining in the half, but Drury countered with a 14-0 run during
the next five minutes to take a 25-20 advantage.
to get this eerie feeling after we gave up two (offensive rebounds)
early, because that same thing happened against Southern last week
and it caused us problems,” Bezold said. “We went into
an extended scoring drought because we were not getting good shots.
had to take some very tough shots because we were not moving well
enough to get good shots, and Drury took advantage of it because
they have some great players.”
Drury owned a 33-31 lead and had made 60.9 percent of its shots
from the field. NKU, on the other hand, shot 41.4 percent from the
field in the first half. Norse 7-footer James Cripe helped keep
his team in the game with seven points, four rebounds and two blocked
shots before the break.
very familiar with Drury since we just played them a week ago, and
then we also met them at their place in the regular season,”
said Cripe, who finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
“I didn’t play well last week at the GLVC Tournament,
and I just wanted to come out and contribute in this game. I was
pleased with the way we battled and I was just happy to get a win
and advance because Drury is an outstanding team.”
Wright scores two of his 26 points against Drury on Saturday
night. Wright, the GLVC Player of the Year, also had four
rebounds and three assists.
in 18 points during the second half, including a 3-pointer with
8:43 left to extend NKU’s lead to 53-45. Anthony Teague netted
the next five points for the Norse with a short jumper in the lane
and a 3-pointer from downtown to make it 58-47.
there are going to be runs in a game like this, and we had the last
big run of the game to give us the cushion,” Bezold said.
“Teague hit some huge shots for us, and when you get to this
point, it is great teams versus great teams. Guys have to step up
and make plays and battle to the end. We did that.”
with its last run and pulled to within 58-55 with 4:58 left. Teague,
however, buried another 3-pointer to extend NKU’s advantage
to 61-55. After Wright hit a pair of free throws, Teague extinguished
any hopes for Drury by draining a 3-pointer from the left side while
being fouled to give NKU a 66-59 lead.
with 19 points off the bench for NKU, which was 10-for-24 from 3-point
range. Teague was 5-for-8 from behind the arc, while Wright finished
4-for-9 in 3-point attempts.
from long range at key moments were the difference, according to
Drury head coach Steve Hesser.
made some difficult shots. Give him credit. If he misses those and
we board it, it may have been a different story," Hesser said.
led fifth-seeded Drury (21-9) with 17 points and nine rebounds.
The Panthers cooled off considerably in the second half from the
field (14-for-33) and finished at 50 percent for the game.
seven points and five assists for fourth-seeded NKU (23-8), while
Schappell added seven points and four rebounds.
for NKU in the regional semifinals is top-seeded Findlay, which
owns the nation’s longest home winning streak at 59 consecutive
games. The Oilers - winners of 28 consecutive games this season
and ranked No. 3 nationally in the NCAA Division II poll - also
have not lost to a non-conference opponent at home in front of its
frenzied fans since Dec. 28, 1997, when St. Francis (Ill.) posted
a 77-69 win over Findlay in Croy Gymnasium.
is a well-coached team with great players, and we have to come out
and be the aggressor and have confidence,” Wright said. “We
can play with anyone, but we can’t make mistakes. Findlay
will have a great crowd behind them, and we need to be at our best
to win a game like this.”
with that assessment.
crowd is awesome, and I like to be in this type of atmosphere, although
don’t get me wrong, I would rather be in Highland Heights
for this game,” Bezold joked. "Findlay is one of the
top teams in the nation, they have the longest home winning streak
in the country and are a great team. They have not lost a game since
November, and that’s incredible.
adversity, which we will against (Findlay) tomorrow, and see how
you respond. This is why you play the game, and it should be a lot
of fun for the fans.”