---Harrison Morton goes strong to the basket during NKU’s 74-68 win over Lewis on Thursday night. Morton scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds as NKU remained atop the GLVC East Division at 9-2.

By Tom Ramstetter, NKU Sports Information

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Harrison Morton and Anthony Teague each scored 14 points as Northern Kentucky University rallied to defeat Lewis, 74-68, Thursday night in Regents Hall.

Dennis Gagai hit a 3-pointer with 13:20 left in the game to give the Norse their first lead of the second half, 48-47, and the advantage held up. The Norse improved to 15-3 overall, and 9-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Scott Bibbins added 12 points and made all eight of his free-throw attempts for NKU, which is in first place in the GLVC East Division. Lewis entered the game ranked fifth in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Poll, one spot ahead of No. 6 NKU.

“It was one of those tough games that we know we’re going to have to play from here on out,” head coach Dave Bezold said. “Lewis is a good basketball team, and they were ahead of us in the regional rankings. That is the poll that I look at because it’s the most important one.

“We came in here knowing we had five games left at home, and we had to figure out a way to win a basketball game tonight.”

Bezold became the fastest coach in NKU history to reach 70 wins. Bezold is now 70-38 in his fourth season commanding the Norse bench. Former coach Mike Beitzel reached 70 wins at game 117 in his fifth season.

Gagai, NKU’s freshman 3-point shooting sensation, finished with nine points on 3-for-6 shooting from behind the arc.

“I had a lot of confidence and they were wide open shots,” Gagai said of his treys. “They were all from loose balls and hustle plays that got the ball back and that was a big key to getting me open. I give all the credit to Scotty (Bibbins) and Billy (Finnell) getting me the ball in those situations.”

Lewis held a 47-42 lead, but Mark Hawkins nailed a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 47-45 with 13:50 remaining. Gagai followed 30 seconds later with another trey to give the Norse the lead for good, and Hawkins followed with a free throw.

DeAaron Williams then hit a pull-up jumper to put the Norse ahead 51-47 with under nine minutes left.

“That is our weapon,” Bezold said of the second-half surge. “I think we caught one lead in the first half when we went up by one, and then they went on that 7-0 run to end the half. In the second half, we were very fortunate that our shooters got some great looks and they knocked them cold. I thought we had some really good looks throughout the second half but if you continue to do that and generate the looks, the majority is going to fall. Once we got that lead, I was very happy with our play defensively."

Teague buried four 3-pointers, while Morton was 6-for-11 from the field and also grabbed five rebounds. Williams scored six points and added three steals.

---DeAaron Williams soars in for a first-half dunk during NKU’s 74-68 win over Lewis on Thursday night. Williams finished with six points, four rebounds and three steals as NKU improved to 15-3 overall.

“I thought DeAaron did a heck of a job on (Stephan) Bolt for a couple of possessions, and we forced them into shooting quickly before the shot clock ran out,” Bezold said. “We also stepped up and made some big free throws. Harrison Morton made some big buckets inside for us. He didn’t rely on the jump shot and was attacking the hole and making big, big shots for us.”

The Flyers were able to cut the lead to 51-50 with 8:40 left, but the Norse went on a 9-2 run capped by Teague’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left to give the Norse their largest lead of the game, 60-52.

Two Dennis Thomas Jr. 3-pointers pulled the Flyers to within two, 64-62, with 2:40 left, but Morton hit a layup and Teague followed with another basket after corralling his own rebound to give NKU a 68-62 lead with 46.2 second left, sealing the game.

“Harrison played well,” Teague said. “The key to it is that he played well down the stretch. He’s a versatile player who can do a lot of things, which he did for us tonight to get the win.”

Teague also hailed the play of his teammates off the bench.

“I think the guys coming off the bench picked us up really well. I can’t take anything away from the bench play,” he said. “I think it was the most important part of the game and won it for us. Any time you have a bench that can come in and play just as well as your starters, you’re a solid team.”

Lewis - which started the game on an 8-0 run - led much of the night, including a 40-32 advantage early in the second half. The Flyers closed the first half on a 7-0 run and led 38-32 at halftime. NKU had rallied to take a 32-31 lead on a Teague 3-pointer with 2:06 left in the half.

“We started out slow and got down 11-3 at the beginning of the game, and they used another 7-0 run to finish the half, so that’s an 18-3 advantage that I wasn’t pleased about at the half,” Bezold said. “We came out in the second half and didn’t make shots right away, but we got good looks and we played harder and we were more focused, which I thought was the difference in the game.”

Bolt scored 11 in the first half for the Flyers and finished with 15. Thomas Jr. led the Flyers with 24 points, but Lewis fell to 13-5 overall and 6-4 in the GLVC.

NKU shot 54.2 percent from the field in the second half and finished at 47.2 percent for the game. The Flyers shot 50 percent in the second half and 49 percent for the game. Lewis also outrebounded the Norse, 29-27, but was held to just nine boards in the second half.

The Norse will host GLVC East Division preseason favorite Wisconsin-Parkside Saturday in Regents Hall at 3:15 p.m.

BOX SCORE