---Betsey Clark attempts a shot against Kentucky Wesleyan during NKU’s 76-45 victory. Clark finished with four assists as the Norse extended their winning streak to 11 games.

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - If any basketball team in the nation is playing better than Northern Kentucky University's women, please point in that direction and tell everyone to look out.

That's because NKU is doing a grand imitation of a runaway steamroller with no end in sight to its current roll.

The Norse extended their winning streak to 11 games Thursday night with a 76-45 blitzing of Kentucky Wesleyan. NKU, which jumped back into the NCAA Division II national poll this week at No. 24, improved to 18-5 overall, 12-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

NKU also clinched a berth in the upcoming GLVC Tournament, which begins March 2 at Evansville, Ind.

On Jan. 6, NKU stood 7-5 overall, 1-4 in the GLVC. A lot has changed since then for the Norse.

"I think early on we just had some injuries, and we had some things happen that we had to deal with physically," NKU head coach Nancy Winstel said. "We just didn’t have that zing to us, and we had to find it. To the team’s credit, the most important thing that this team did was they’ve stayed together.

"They knew they were better than what they were playing but they couldn’t figure out how to make it better. I just think that from practicing, sticking together, keeping our heads up and just fighting the fight that we found our way."

That path has been led by the play of senior forward Brittany Winner, who scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Kentucky Wesleyan. Winner, who was named GLVC Player of the Week on Monday, continued to sizzle by knocking down four 3-point field goals in 30 minutes of action.

Nicole Chiodi and Karen Brackman each added 11 points for NKU, which placed 10 players in the scoring column. The Norse also tied a school record with 12 blocked shots, led by Cassie Brannen's five rejections.

"We’re just long. We don’t take charges anymore, we block shots," Winstel said. "As long as we don’t foul when we block shots, then we’re OK. Our length is a success to the team, and we try to put our team in a position where our length is a factor."

Chiodi grabbed eight rebounds for NKU, which won the battle of the boards by a 52-32 margin. The Norse are now 46-4 all-time against Kentucky Wesleyan, including a 23-0 mark in Regents Hall.

NKU built a 29-23 halftime lead as Winner netted 11 points. In the second half, Kentucky Wesleyan shot just 17.9 percent (7-for-39) from the field and was only 1-for-13 from 3-point range. The Panthers (17-7 overall, 10-6 GLVC) finished at 24.3 percent from the field.

---Karen Brackman drains a jumper Thursday night during NKU’s 76-45 win over Kentucky Wesleyan. Brackman equaled her career high with 11 points and was 3-for-3 from the field.

"In the first half, they gave us a good run, but in the second half we just came out and executed everything," said NKU senior forward Katie Butler, who finished with seven points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. "We adjusted to the way that they were playing defense. We set a lot of ball screens and stuff like that. We adjusted to how they were trapping and hedging up high, so it helped out with shots for our shooters."

Butler, a transfer from the University of Dayton who has been a major contributor to NKU's shot-blocking machine this season, agreed with her coach's assessment when it comes to charges.

"I try not to take a charge because I’m really bad at it," she said. "I tried to take one last year and they called a foul on me, and from that point on I’ve just been trying to block people. It’s bad and gets us in trouble sometimes, but we’re so much longer than all the other teams so we just go for blocks."

Another senior who has stepped forward during the current winning streak is Betsey Clark, who dished out four assists, grabbed three rebounds and played excellent defense Thursday night.

"We’ve definitely picked up our defense. Coach always tells us to be thankful, because the defensive intensity really impacts our offense," said Clark, a McNicholas High School graduate.

"We’re getting more steals that lead to easy layups and easy points that way. At the beginning of the season, our defense wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be, and we’ve really picked it up that way."

They have picked enough to roll past a very good opponent who was looking to break in to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region poll. NKU is currently No. 3 in the ranking, but Kentucky Wesleyan was looking for a big win to jump into the next regional poll.

"We were expecting a pretty close game because Wesleyan is up there in the conference, just like every other team is right now because it’s so close," Clark said. "We expected them to come in with a lot of enthusiasm, and they did. They played well and they played hard, but I don’t think they hit nearly as many shots as they expected."

LaTasha Henry led Kentucky Wesleyan with 13 points, and Laura McClintic added 11.

NKU will close out its home schedule Monday at 5:30 p.m. against Bellarmine in the makeup of the game postponed this past Tuesday night due to inclement weather. It will mark the final appearance in Regents Hall for the five Norse seniors - Winner, Butler, Clark, Karyn Creager and Karmen Graham.

"This is an outstanding senior class, and they are a group who has done a great job of helping us through a tough early-season stretch when we struggled," Winstel said. "I think that says a lot about the character of the team. I’m proud of them for that as much as anything else."

NKU hits the road for games at Saint Joseph's (Feb. 22) and Indianapolis (Feb. 24) to conclude the regular season.