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NKU WINS GLVC CHAMPIONSHIP, 86-73 - March 5, 2006
Norse knock off No. 3 Drury behind Winner’s career-high 30 points

Brittany Winner scored 30 points

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - During the first two rounds of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, Northern Kentucky University’s Brittany Winner had struggled with her shooting.

The junior forward, in fact, was just 4-for-15 from the field in her previous two games entering Sunday’s GLVC championship contest against Drury.

All that changed in a big-time way against the powerful Lady Panthers, who entered Sunday ranked No. 3 nationally in the NCAA Division II poll.

Winner scored a career-high 30 points as NKU captured the GLVC Tournament championship with an 86-73 victory over Drury in Roberts Stadium. Winner shot 10-for-13 from the field and made all nine of her free throws as NKU won its first GLVC title since 2000.

“I think Brittany had a long talk with herself,” NKU head coach Nancy Winstel said. “We ask Brittany to do so much for us. We ask her to defend the best perimeter player, we ask her to rebound, we ask her to handle the ball,we ask her to run the point sometimes, we ask her to post up, and we ask her to score. And when she doesn’t, I get on her.

“She’s a warrior and she’s so athletic. I think she decided that what she did in the first two games wasn’t good enough, and she wanted to show she was better.”

Did she ever. Winner also grabbed seven rebounds, handled the ball flawlessly against the Drury pressure and was named the most outstanding player of the tournament as the Norse earned the GLVC’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Katie Butler scored 15 points against Drury

“I just wanted to play my game, which is being aggressive and taking it to the basket,” said Winner, whose previous career high was 16 points. “I was frustrated with the way I played during the first two games, and I just wanted to be aggressive.”


NKU jumped out to a 39-30 halftime lead by holding Drury to 38.5 percent shooting from the field. The Norse withstood several rallies by the Lady Panthers in the second half and shot 56.5 percent from the field during the final 20 minutes.

Katie Butler and Karyn Creager each added 15 points for NKU, which is ranked No. 22 in the NCAA Division II poll. Nicole Chiodi scored 12 points and made a key 3-pointer late in the second half.

Drury had sliced a 10-point NKU lead to 67-64 with just under three minutes remaining. Chiodi found an opening on the right wing and launched a shot from behind the arc that found the bottom of the net to give the Norse a 70-64 advantage with 2:44 left on the clock.

Going into the game, Chiodi had made just six 3-pointers the entire season. The Newport Central Catholic High School graduate, who scored more than 2,000 career points as a prep standout, also added two assists and three rebounds in 28 minutes of action against Drury.

“Nicole had the look of determination on her face, especially the last five or six minutes when we needed it the most,” Winstel said.

Drury fouled Chiodi with 2:04 left, and the sophomore guard responded by sinking both free throws to extend the Norse lead to 72-64. NKU, in fact, made its final 15 attempts from the line to ice the championship.

“They fouled Nicole first and made her show that she could do it,” Winstel said. “She set the tone by putting them both in. Once we started making them we kept putting them in.”

Karyn Creager (24) and Angela Healy

The Norse finished 31-for-34 from the free-throw line and committed just 10 turnovers against the Drury pressure defense. Earlier this season during a 56-45 loss to the Lady Panthers in Regents Hall, NKU was forced into 30 turnovers.

“I thought Katie Butler came up big for us,” Winstel said of her junior forward. “The game was pretty physical, but I thought that Katie and Angela (Healy) gave us some major quality minutes when we had Karmen (Graham) on the bench.”

Graham, NKU’s leading scorer this season, was in foul trouble most of the game and finished with two points. The Norse’s frontcourt depth paid dividends, however, and helped NKU finish with a 32-29 rebounding advantage over the physical Lady Panthers.

Graham, who keyed NKU’s first two wins during the event, was named to the all-tournament team. It was the third GLVC Tournament championship for NKU, which also won titles in 1999 and 2000.

Molly Carter scored 28 points to lead Drury, and Amanda Newton added 13 points. Kara Rutledge added 11 points for Drury, which is the No. 1 seed and host for the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament next week at Springfield, Mo.

NKU will meet Michigan Tech (19-8) in the first round on Friday at a time to be determined.