Morton drives to the basket against North Alabama during the
second half of NKU’s 76-73 win. Morton scored 17 points
for the Norse.
Ky. - The smallest man on the court made several of the biggest
shots during Northern Kentucky University’s 76-73 win over
North Alabama on Saturday.
guard Scott Bibbins scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half
to spark NKU (8-1). The 5-foot-9 Bibbins hit three consecutive shots
in the second half, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key,
to keep the Norse within striking distance.
was very aggressive on offense, and his shooting during that stretch
in the second half allowed us to stay close,” NKU head coach
Dave Bezold said after his team extended its winning streak to seven
games. “When you have a guy at the point who can score, it
is going to cause a lot of problems elsewhere for the opponent.
He did a great job of creating those opportunities. Scotty had a
great weekend for us, and that’s one of the reasons we won
a couple of games.
a struggle at first, and it was a hard first half. We couldn’t
make a shot, but I did feel like we had some good looks. They just
weren’t falling, and we had to battle back. We just had to
find a way to dig in deep, find some energy, overcome a deficit
in the second half, and make some plays - and our kids responded.”
(9-5) owned a 52-45 lead with 7:47 remaining in the game, but NKU
responded with a 9-1 run to take a 54-53 advantage on an unusual
five-point play with 6:19 left on the clock. As Vincent Humphrey
buried a 3-pointer from the left wing, NKU’s Dennis Gagai
was fouled away from the ball by Thomas Fraise. Gagai converted
both free throws to cap the five-point possession for NKU.
Gay hit a 3-pointer to give North Alabama a 56-54 lead, Harrison
Morton started a 12-3 NKU run with an inside basket to tie the game
at 56-all. Morton followed by making a pair of free throws, and
Anthony Teague hit a jumper to extend the Norse lead to 60-57. Gagai
then delivered a 3-pointer to give NKU a 63-57 advantage with 3:39
remaining, but Kenny Johnson countered by making two free throws
to bring North Alabama to within 63-59.
by draining a 3-pointer for a 66-59 Norse lead, and North Alabama
found itself in big trouble with less than three minutes remaining.
stepped up and made plays,” Teague said. “The coaches
told us to keep plugging away. Most coaches would tell you to pound
it inside, pound it inside, but coach (Bezold) said if you keep
the ball moving, we’ll be OK.”
Bibbins dribbles by North Alabama’s Kenny Johnson on
Saturday. Bibbins scored 15 of his 17 points in the second
had two chances in the final seconds to tie the game, but Casey
Holt and Gay both missed 3-point attempts.
17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added four steals for NKU,
which committed just four turnovers the entire game. Teague finished
with 13 points, while Humphrey added 12 points and six rebounds.
praised Bibbins for his play.
is probably one of the best point guards that I’ve played
with in a while,” Teague said. “He penetrates well,
sees the floor well, and he’s so little. You don’t expect
him to do all the spin moves that he does, but he plays real solid.”
Fraise, a 6-6,
300-pound post player, led North Alabama with 18 points. The Lions
finished with a 40-32 rebounding advantage but were held to 37.8
percent shooting from the field.
is a very good player, and he is a tough match-up for us,”
Bezold said. “(North Alabama) has guys up and down the lineup
who are capable of scoring 20 points on any given night. When you
play against guys like that, you can’t take a night off defensively.
I thought we battled pretty hard defensively, especially in the
first half. We just had to find a way to win, and we did that.”
Great Lakes Valley Conference play Thursday, when Rockhurst visits
Regents Hall for a 7:45 p.m. game. The Norse also play host to Drury
next Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
NKU is 2-0 in
the GLVC and the defending champion of the GLVC East Division. The
Norse began GLVC play with road wins against Quincy and Southern
Illinois at Edwardsville.