Vincent Humphrey drives past Cincinnati’s Marvin Gentry
during the second half of Wednesday night’s exhibition
game. Humphrey finished with 15 points and five rebounds,
but UC rallied for a 76-71 win over the Norse in Fifth Third
Plenty of tricks, very few treats. That is what Northern Kentucky
University handed out to the University of Cincinnati during their
Halloween exhibition game Wednesday night. And it nearly resulted
in a huge upset in Fifth Third Arena.
The NKU tricks
were 3-point shots, which the Norse buried with haunting regularity
the entire evening. In the end, however, Cincinnati withstood the
long-range barrage from the Norse and rallied for a 76-71 victory.
NKU made 16
shots from 3-point range and was down just two points (70-68) in
the closing seconds. Cincinnati, though, hit six free throws down
the stretch to escape with the victory.
our guys were a little surprised with some of the shots they made,"
UC head coach Mick Cronin said. "(Mark) Hawkins is a great
shooter. He made several of them, as well as (Vincent) Humphrey,
who made over 40 percent (of his 3-point shots) last year."
fact, was 7-for-10 from 3-point range and scored 21 points to lead
NKU. Humphrey connected on a trio of 3-pointers and finished with
15 points. Those two kept the UC defense off-balance much of the
first half and prevented the Bearcats from treating their fans to
the dunking exhibition many anticipated.
penetrated very well and found us for the shots. They made our job
easy, because all we had to do is step up and shoot it," Hawkins
said. "I give all the credit to Billy (Finnell), Harrison (Morton)
and Scott (Bibbins), who create the opportunities with their penetration.
If they keep on doing that throughout the course of this season,
we are going to get a lot of good shots."
out five assists, while Morton added four assists. Bibbins finished
with three assists, while Hawkins and David McFarland each dished
out two assists. Hawkins, a graduate of Finneytown High School,
laughed when asked about his shooting performance.
like the basket was really big tonight," he said, "but
that's my job on this team, and the shots were there."
A year ago in
the annual exhibition game, UC jumped out to a 47-11 halftime lead
and coasted to an 87-41 win over NKU. The Norse, however, reversed
things Wednesday night and connected on six 3-point shots in the
opening six minutes of the game to build a 22-7 lead. Morton capped
the early NKU run with a driving layup.
Northern did a great job, and that's what we needed," Cronin
said of NKU's 15-point lead in the first half. "Getting a team
to come in and play the way they played against us, exploiting some
of our weaknesses, out-hustling us, really sent a message."
Gagai goes to the basket during the second half Wednesday
night. The 6-4 freshman scored 12 points in his NKU debut
and added three rebounds against Cincinnati.
more physical Bearcats eventually found their game and crept within
three points (36-33) at halftime. NKU blistered the nets from 3-point
range in the first half, finishing 9-for-13 from beyond the arc
at the break. With just one player standing taller than 6-foot-5,
the Norse held the lead at halftime.
play a team like UC with that caliber of athlete and the size that
they have, you have to get off to a good start or they will pound
you," Hawkins said. "We came out aggressive tonight, and
we showed we can play with them."
caught NKU and later took a 63-56 lead when Rashad Bishop nailed
a 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining in the game. NKU, though, responded
with an 8-2 run to make it 65-64 with 3:13 left. Hawkins capped
the spurt by burying a long 3-pointer.
countered by making a 3-pointer and finishing off a break with a
basket to make it 70-64. Hawkins later hit another 3-pointer to
bring NKU within 70-68 with 34 seconds remaining, but UC made its
free throws and improved to 7-0 against NKU in exhibition games.
we were very talented, but we were not a very good team at this
time in the season," NKU head coach Dave Bezold said, noting
the number of newcomers on last season's squad. "These guys
have been playing together for two or three years, and they have
an understanding of what we want to do both offensively and defensively.
surprised by the number of 3-pointers we hit tonight, because that's
all we can do. That is the strength of this team. Some nights when
they don't fall, people might wonder why we don't throw it inside.
But our guys are really executing well, and they did a very good
job in this game."
Morton and Dennis
Gagai each scored 12 points for NKU, which posted a 24-9 record
last season advanced to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region
Tournament championship game. The Norse are picked to finish second
in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division poll.
NKU shot 59
percent (16-for-27) from 3-point range, but UC won the rebounding
battle by a 34-20 margin. Vaughn led the Bearcats with 17 points,
and Adam Hrycaniuk scored 15 points. Bishop and Anthony McClain
each added 10 points for UC.
the regular season at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 16 against UC-Clermont in the
John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic in Regents Hall. The next night,
NKU will meet Division II national powerhouse Findlay at 7:45 p.m.
in the final game of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic.