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BUTLER SPARKS 81-62 WIN OVER INDY - Feb. 9, 2006
Norse extend winning streak to 13 games as bench contributes 32 points, 14 rebounds

Katie Butler draws a foul inside

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - A strong performance by the bench this season is nothing out of the ordinary for the Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball team.

So it wasn’t a big surprise to see Katie Butler leading the Norse to an 81-62 win over Indianapolis on Thursday night in Regents Hall.

Butler scored 14 points off the bench as NKU extended its winning streak to 13 games. The 6-foot-1 junior added five rebounds and two steals for NKU, which improved to 19-3 overall, 12-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Butler scored 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field in the first half as the Norse built a 40-29 lead at the break. She also drained a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.

“I like to shoot the 3-pointer, and that’s a big part of my game,” said Butler, who transferred to NKU this season after playing two years at the University of Dayton.

“My role is to provide a spark off the bench and get our team going. Shooting from the outside is something I really like to do.”

She did just that in the first half for the Norse, who made 53.8 percent of their shots from the field before the break. Freshman post player Cassie Brannen also came off the bench and scored seven of her nine points in the first half.

In the first half, NKU’s reserves shot 80 percent from the field and scored 23 points. The NKU bench contributed 32 points and 14 rebounds for the game.

“I thought we got great energy off the bench from Cassie Brannen, Katie (Butler) and Betsey (Clark),” said NKU head coach Nancy Winstel, who is now 491-166 in 23 years as head coach with the Norse. “I thought those three in particular really did a nice job.

“(Katie) has such a pretty shot. Tonight they were doubling, she stepped out and it was like a dagger into the heart when she hit a couple big 3-pointers for us. It was great to see her play well because we need her to do that.”

Brittany Winner shoots a floater

Nicole Chiodi added 11 points and five assists for NKU, which is ranked 24th nationally in the NCAA Division II poll. The 13-game winning streak is NKU’s longest since the 1999-2000 season, when the Norse ran off 24 consecutive victories en route to the NCAA Division II national championship.

Karmen Graham and Karyn Creager each scored 10 points for NKU. Brannen added six rebounds and two blocked shots for the Norse, who shot 49.1 percent from the field.

Brittany Winner and Angela Healy each finished with nine points as NKU swept the regular-season series with Indianapolis. The Norse finished with a 35-29 rebounding edge and held the Greyhounds to 39.3 percent shooting from the field.

Mandy Geryak led Indianapolis (10-12, 5-9 GLVC) with 23 points and five assists. Earlier this season, NKU pulled out a 58-56 win at Indianapolis.

What was the difference between Thursday and the first time in December?

“I think we’re a much better team than we were last time,” Butler said. “We know each other so much better now. We know where people are going to cut.

“We know our strengths and weaknesses a lot better, and we play to them much better than we did back then. Our offense is really starting to work for us. It couldn’t come at a better time.”

NKU will play its final home game of the season at 1 p.m. Saturday against Saint Joseph’s. Earlier this season, Saint Joseph’s posted a 50-47 win over NKU at Rensselaer, Ind.

The Norse need one victory to clinch their first 20-win season since 2002-03. NKU leads the GLVC East and is ranked third in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region poll.