---NKU guard Mark Hawkins challenges Indianapolis during the first half of the Norse’s 70-57 win on Saturday night. Hawkins, one of five NKU seniors honored before the game, finished with eight points.


By Tom Ramstetter, NKU Sports Information

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - With three Northern Kentucky University coaching legends from the past serving as honorary head coaches Saturday night, the Norse closed out the Regents Hall era in style, downing Indianapolis, 70-57, in front of a standing-room only crowd.

Also in attendance Saturday and recognized at halftime were members from the inaugural 1971-72 season of then-Northern Kentucky State College men's basketball. The 1971-72 team had no home gym in which to play its games or practice. The following season, Regents Hall opened and provided a home for Norse basketball the next 36 years.

All that ended Saturday night on a winning note.

Senior post player Travis Rasso scored 19 points in his final home game as the Norse ended a two-game losing streak by knocking off their Great Lakes Valley Conference rival for the second time this season. Former NKU head coaches Mote Hils, Mike Beitzel and Ken Shields received warm welcomes from the sellout crowd, and Rasso put together one of his best efforts of the season.

“Just trying to go out with a bang,” Rasso, a Boone County High School graduate, said. “I love playing here. It’s a great atmosphere. I’m going to miss it. I just wanted to leave a mark on the last game here.”

Rasso did not play in Thursday’s loss to Saint Joseph’s, but was in the starting lineup Saturday, made an impact immediately and often. The center was 7-for-8 from the field and converted five of his six free throws.

“He received an opportunity, and it’s Senior Night,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said. “He really was going to play against Saint Joe, but once their big guy went out with an injury, I just didn’t like the matchup. That’s the only reason he didn’t play that game. So, he knew going in he was going to start. He was relaxed and he did some really good things for us.”

Senior Harrison Morton scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Norse. Freshman Dennis Gagai scored 12 points for NKU, which clinched a spot in the GLVC Tournament next month.

“We knew this game was big,” Rasso said. “Obviously, because it was the last game, but we needed the win because we lost two in a row. We had to get back on a winning streak because we’re about to go on the road for the last four games. The road in the GLVC is just not easy.

“The only thing we did differently, we wanted to be aggressive on defense.”

Bezold was pleased his team got back to playing its brand of basketball following the disappointing losing streak.

“It’s pride,” Bezold said. “We knew we were a good basketball team. We just had to get a relaxed game. I think we were putting so much pressure on ourselves just to win. They wanted to win so bad, we weren’t able to play our game.”

---Former NKU coaches Mote Hils (left) and Ken Shields talk Saturday night during the Regents Hall finale.

The Norse led 38-18 at halftime, surging ahead early with a 14-1 run to start the game. Indianapolis missed its first 12 shots from the field and didn’t convert a field goal until the 10:15 mark of the first half.

“It helps early on when you make some shots,” Bezold said. “It relaxed everybody. I thought our concentration was much better for 40 minutes. They missed some good shots, but fundamentally we were better than we had been.”

The Greyhounds never led in the game and NKU led by as many as 24 in the second half. NKU shot 55.6 percent from the field while Indianapolis shot only 35.8 percent.

NKU is tied for second place in the GLVC East Division with Lewis, which upset first-place Kentucky Wesleyan, 58-55, at Romeoville, Ill., on Saturday. NKU will travel to Bellarmine on Tuesday before visiting Kentucky Wesleyan on Thursday. The Norse beat the Panthers last month in Regents Hall.

NKU will then close out the regular season with a road trip to Wisconsin-Parkside and Lewis.

The Norse also honored seniors Vincent Humphrey, Mark Hawkins and Anthony Teague, as well as Rasso and Morton, in pregame Senior Night festivities. Hawkins finished with eight points, while Humphrey and Teague each added four points.

DeAndre Brock led Indianapolis (12-11 overall, 6-9 GLVC) with 12 points. Brock, however, was just 5-for-16 from the field.