Ind. - Going into Thursday, none of the current players on the Northern
Kentucky University women’s basketball team had ever won a
game in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament.
The NKU coaching
staff made sure the players knew that fact earlier in the week,
so motivation was not a problem in the first round against Missouri-St.
Louis in Roberts Stadium.
with a 72-62 victory over Missouri-St. Louis, the Norse’s
first win in the GLVC Tournament since the opening round of 2003.
NKU improved to 24-4 overall and advanced to Saturday’s GLVC
semifinal game against Quincy at 1 p.m (EST).
Four NKU players
scored in double figures, led by Karmen Graham’s 20 points.
Graham was 12-for-13 at the free-throw line and added two steals.
The 6-foot-1 junior forward also was named first team All-GLVC on
“I think that
we were aggressive and tried to take the ball in, and I know we
were fouled a lot today,” Graham said. “I think that
making our free throws really helped us.”
NKU, in fact, used 27-for-37
shooting from the line to coast past Missouri-St. Louis. That helped
offset a 44-27 Riverwomen advantage in rebounding.
“I don’t think we were nervous as much as (the players)
didn’t want me to yell at them,” NKU head coach Nancy
Winstel said jokingly. “Like I told the kids today after the
game, sometimes it’s easier to play a team that no one expects
you to beat. (Missouri-St. Louis) had everything to gain and nothing
to lose. Their kids played so hard and were well-coached.”
out to a 22-9 lead in the first half of the game as Karyn Creager
scored nine early points. Creager drained a pair of 3-point shots,
and she also added a conventional three-point play.
NKU held the Riverwomen
to just 34.6 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
Graham took over in the second half and scored 16 points.
was such a warrior because not only did we need her offense, but
we needed her to guard (Jennifer) Martin,” Winstel said. “Martin
is a handful, but Karmen and our defense did a nice job with her.”
NKU held Martin - Missouri-St.
Louis’ leading scorer - to 13 points before she fouled out.
“Karmen is always
a go-to player for us, and she really works hard all of the time,”
said NKU junior forward Brittany Winner, who led the Norse with
eight rebounds. “She’s able to create a lot with her
aggressiveness, and she just kept taking it to them. She had a couple
of three-point plays for us early in the second half, and I think
that really helped us turn around the game.”
Katie Butler came off the bench and scored 12 points for the Norse,
who held Missouri-St. Louis (16-12) to 35.8 percent shooting from
the field. Butler scored eight points in the first half as NKU built
a 35-28 lead at the break.
“Katie Butler is having a great second half of the year.
And defensively, she is so much better than she was earlier in the
year,” Winstel said. “She’s not afraid to shoot
the ball, and she is a very good player off the bench. She’s
as important to our team as anyone.”
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.
NKU upped its
lead in the all-time series with Missouri-St. Louis to 16-2.