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Norse (23-4) open GLVC Tournament at 3:30 p.m. (EST) this Thursday

Karmen Graham

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball team will meet Missouri-St. Louis in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on Thursday at Evansville, Ind.

NKU (23-4 overall, 16-3 GLVC) enters the eight-team GLVC Tournament as the No. 1 seed from the East Division. Missouri-St. Louis (16-11 overall, 9-10 GLVC) qualified as a wild card and is the No. 4 seed from the West Division.

The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday against the Quincy/Bellarmine winner. The championship game is set for 2 p.m. Saturday. All games will be played at Roberts Stadium.

The winner of the GLVC Tournament receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The 64-team NCAA Division II Tournament field will be announced at 10 p.m. March 5.

All NKU games this week can be heard live on WIOK (107.5 FM) and on the Internet at

GLVC TOURNAMENT HISTORY: NKU owns a 12-6 all-time record in the GLVC Tournament, and the Norse have won two GLVC Tournament championships (1999 and 2000).

NKU is 11-5 all-time at Roberts Stadium during GLVC Tournament play.

FIRST-ROUND BLUES: NKU has lost in the opening round of the GLVC Tournament the last two years. Last season, Bellarmine defeated NKU, 62-54, in the first game. Two years ago, Indianapolis posted a 67-58 win over NKU in the opening round.

NKU’S GLVC CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: In 2000, NKU defeated IPFW, Bellarmine and Indianapolis to capture the GLVC title. The previous year, the Norse defeated Kentucky Wesleyan, Southern Indiana and Bellarmine en route to the GLVC Tournament championship.

Katie Butler

TODAY’S YOUR BIRTHDAY: NKU’s Katie Butler celebrated her 21st birthday last Saturday by making a trio of 3-point shots en route to scoring 11 points in the Norse’s 75-65 win at Lewis. Butler also grabbed seven rebounds and had four steals in that win.

With NKU trailing 22-17, Butler came off the bench and made two 3-point shots to ignite a 16-2 run that gave the Norse a 33-24 lead.

DYNAMIC DUO: Karmen Graham and Brittany Winner combined for 34 points and nine assists to lead the Norse offensive attack at Lewis. Graham scored 18 points and had three assists. She also grabbed four rebounds and was 7-for-10 from the free-throw line.

Graham enters the GLVC Tournament as NKU’s leading scorer (14.4 points per game) and rebounder (5.8 rebounds per game).

Winner added 16 points and six assists, and she made three 3-pointers. Winner is scoring 9.0 ppg and is second on the team in assists with 62.

INSIDE FORCE: NKU freshman Cassie Brannen added 14 points, six rebounds and three steals in the win at Lewis. Brannen, a candidate for GLVC Freshman of the Year honors, made all five of her attempts from the field and was 4-for-5 at the line. She averages 6.8 ppg and 4.8 rpg. Brannen is also shooting 56.1 percent from the field and has 24 blocked shots.

WINSTEL NEARS NKU MILESTONE: Nancy Winstel enters the GLVC Tournament with 495 career victories as the head coach at NKU. Winstel, who earned her 500th collegiate coaching win last season, is 495-167 in 23 years as the Norse mentor. She owns an overall coaching record of 534-208 in 26 seasons of coaching.

ABOUT MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS: The Riverwomen are led by 6-foot-1 junior center Jennifer Martin, who averages 11.9 ppg and 6.4 rpg. Martin leads the GLVC with 57 blocked shots and has made 49 percent of her shots from the field.

Sophomore guard Courtney Watts is scoring 10.5 ppg for the Riverwomen, who defeated Southern Indiana, 61-56, on the road last Saturday to earn a berth in the GLVC Tournament. Crystal Lambert scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half to spark the Missouri-St. Louis victory.

Cassie Brannen

EARLIER THIS SEASON AGAINST MISSOURI-ST. LOUIS: On Jan. 12, Karmen Graham scored 23 points and made four free throws in the final 36 seconds of the game as NKU rallied for a 66-57 win over Missouri-St. Louis in the Mark Twain Building.

Missouri-St. Louis held a 52-50 lead with 2:05 left in the game after Jennifer Martin’s inside basket, but Katie Butler countered by draining a 3-pointer to give NKU a 53-52 advantage with 1:50 remaining. Graham was fouled trying to get position as Butler’s 3-pointer was launched, and she added two free throws to extend the Norse lead to 55-52.

Butler gave NKU a 58-52 lead with a minute left on the clock when she hit her second 3-pointer of the game. The Norse sealed the victory by making eight free throws in the final 46 seconds, with Graham converting four straight from the line.

Graham had a key steal with 27 seconds left and NKU holding a 62-57 lead. Her two free throws gave the Norse a 64-57 advantage. Graham finished 13-for-14 from the free-throw line.

Brittany Winner added 13 points and seven rebounds for NKU. Karyn Creager scored 11 points and had three assists as NKU upped its lead in the all-time series with Missouri-St. Louis to 15-2.

A year ago, the Norse swept the season series with the Riverwomen.

NCAA PAIRINGS ANNOUNCED SUNDAY AT 10 P.M.: Pairings for the NCAA Division II Tournament will be announced Sunday at 10 p.m. NKU is expected to be among the eight teams earning berths in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region field.

The likely host for the Great Lakes Region Tournament is Drury, which enters the GLVC Tournament ranked No. 1 in the regional poll.