----Karen Brackman launches a jumper

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - When six players score in double figures for a college basketball team, a victory usually follows. That was certainly the case Saturday afternoon for Northern Kentucky University, which dominated the Regents Hall court en route to a 97-56 win over Wayne (Mich.) State.

Cassie Brannen scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead NKU (2-0). The sophomore post player was 7-for-8 from the field and made all six of her attempts from the free-throw line.

Five other NKU players - Angela Healy (13 points), Keri Finnell (12), Karen Brackman (11), Katie Butler (11) and Betsey Clark (10) - also scored in double figures. Healy also pulled down nine rebounds and had four assists.

"We have some real quality players. Cassie had 20 and then Brackie is just so athletic," NKU head coach Nancy Winstel said. "Betsey has played every position for us, and she did a great job today. And Keri Finnell, I thought she played very well. She had a couple turnovers, but other than that I thought she played a very good game."

The Norse shot 55.4 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle by a 42-31 margin. NKU built a 41-16 halftime lead by holding Wayne State (1-3) to 23.1 percent shooting from the field and cruised to its second consecutive lopsided victory to open the season.

Brannen, a graduate of Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, netted 12 points and hauled down eight rebounds before halftime. Butler recorded a game-high three steals and grabbed seven rebounds.

Clark, a senior guard and a McNicholas High School graduate, added four assists, three rebounds and two steals to her 10 points. Brittany Winner dished out a game-high five assists, scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds against the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe.

Brackman, a sophomore guard from Minster, Ohio, shot 4-for-6 from the field and added two assists in 17 minutes of action. Finnell, a sophomore and a graduate of Purcell Marian High School, was 3-for-4 from the field and also dished out two assists.

----Keri Finnell scores a second-half basket

"Everybody is ready and they can contribute, so that’s a big advantage," Finnell said of the NKU bench, which produced 44 points and nine rebounds Saturday. "A lot of teams don’t have a bench that can contribute like ours. I think we played a good game, even though we struggled some with our turnovers. But that’s out of the normal, so we should be fine by the next game."

NKU turned the ball over 16 times, compared to 24 by Wayne State. The Norse were 30-for-40 from the charity stripe and 5-for-14 from 3-point range.

"I thought we played very well in spots, and I thought we were a little sloppy at times, too," said Winstel, who notched her 501st NKU victory. "We got off to quite a good lead, and I think our focus kind of dropped a little bit. But, overall, I think we did a good job. I thought we did quite a few good things.

"We were able to play a lot of people, which is something I think that we’re going to do anyway. I think that’s going to wear some teams down. I think we’ll be ready to play against somebody that’s tough, and Quincy’s tough. We’ll find out Thursday."

NKU will begin Great Lakes Valley Conference play Thursday at 5:30 p.m. when Quincy visits Regents Hall. The Norse also play host to Southern Illinois at Edwardsville at 1 p.m. Saturday.

NKU played without senior forward Karmen Graham, who is nursing a sore knee and is listed as day-to-day. Graham was the Norse's leading scorer and rebounder last season.

"I’ve really missed her," Winstel said of Graham. "We haven’t really been pressed in these first two games. I made a decision in this game to really not play Betsey and Brittany too much. We got a lot of minutes for Katie Butler.

"But we’re going to need Karmen. The energy, the enthusiasm, the passion and the leadership that Karmen brings to our team cannot be minimized."

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