---Cassie Brannen

DETROIT - Throw it inside to Angela Healy or Cassie Brannen, and something positive will likely happen for Northern Kentucky University.

Look at NKU’s 78-60 win at Wayne State on Thursday as the latest example of that basketball logic. The Norse inside duo of Healy and Brannen combined for 41 points, 18 rebounds and 14-for-23 shooting from the field.

Healy finished with her sixth double-double of the season (21 points, 12 rebounds), while Brannen scored 20 points and grabbed six boards. Those two also combined for 12-for-13 accuracy from the free-throw line, six assists and three steals.

“Cassie and Angela have been such consistent players all season, and their maturity as basketball players is outstanding,” NKU assistant coach Matt Schmidt said. “As they go, we go, and that’s what we talked about at halftime. Our upperclassmen need to bring that consistency to the game. We did a better job in the second half. We’re getting there, and we are still a work in progress.”

NKU (8-1), ranked 11th nationally in the NCAA Division II poll, built a 27-19 lead with 5:25 left in the first half on a Brannen basket. Wayne State, however, countered with a 7-0 run to cut the Norse advantage to 27-26 with 2:45 on the clock. NKU would take a 33-29 lead into the locker room.

“In the first half, we started out a little slow,” Schmidt said. “We did not get to the loose balls, and we gave up nine offensive rebounds in the first half.”

The Norse began the second half with a 16-3 run to take a 49-32 lead with 14:22 remaining when Healy made a pair of free throws. Wayne State again responded, this time with a 16-4 spurt to make it 53-48 game with 9:22 left.

“We had the big lead, Wayne State cut it under 10 points, but we found a way to win on the road,” Schmidt said. “We have to mature as a team as the year goes on to put teams away and not allow them to get back into a game.”

---Karen Brackman

Karen Brackman halted the Wayne State comeback by draining a huge 3-pointer to extend NKU’s lead to 56-48. The Norse eventually built a 19-point lead and coasted to their sixth consecutive victory and third win during the past four days. Brackman, a junior guard from Minster, Ohio, finished with 12 points, 11 of those in the second half.

“Karen Brackman’s offensive game is starting to come along,” Schmidt said. “She shot the ball well against St. Andrews in the first half the other night. Tonight, she hit a big 3-pointer in the second half when we really needed a big shot.”

Jessie Slack added 10 points for NKU, which held Wayne State to 30.3 percent shooting from the field. Nicole Chiodi added eight points, four rebounds and three assists.

"Jessie Slack is the ultimate competitor, and she’s a real gym rat,” Schmidt said. “She is starting to understand how we play and buy into our system. Nicole Chiodi is a great leader, and she did a great job of controlling the tempo in this game. She did a great job of getting us into our offense.”

NKU converted 29 of its 33 free throws and battled Wayne State to a 40-all tie on the boards. The Norse shot 44.2 percent from the field, including 3-for-12 from 3-point range.

“We’re pretty good for 5-6 minutes, then we have a letdown for 3-4 minutes,” Schmidt said. “We need to get better and put a 20-minute half together. Then put another 20-minute half together. We’re really excited about this group of young women and the way they work. We have a lot of new players compared to last year’s team, and we’re still a work in progress, but we’re also getting better each game.”

NKU will resume play Dec. 29 with a road game at Grand Valley State.

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