Jan. 23, 2003

NKU DEFEATS BELLARMINE, 75-68

Smith, Stowers both score 17 points to lead Norse

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Quentin Smith scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half Thursday night as Northern Kentucky University defeated Bellarmine University, 75-68, in Regents Hall.

Brenden Stowers added 17 points as the Norse - ranked No. 17 nationally in the latest NCAA Division II poll - rallied from a nine-point deficit to post the victory. NKU (15-3 overall) is in sole possession of first place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference with a 9-2 record.

Bellarmine (7-12 overall, 2-8 GLVC) held a 32-23 lead with 4:28 left before halftime, but NKU finished with a 10-4 run to close within 36-33 at the break. The Norse made just 35.7 percent of their shots from the field in the first half.

Bellarmine still held a 52-51 lead with 9:12 remaining in the game, but a Smith inside basket followed by a conventional three-point play by Mike Kelsey gave NKU a 56-52 advantage. The Norse led the remainder of the game, as Stowers and Bobby St-Preux - who made a pair of three-point shots in the last four minutes - combined for 14 of NKU’s final 17 points.

Kelsey added 14 points for NKU, which has now won 18 consecutive games in Regents Hall. The 18-game home win streak ranks No. 3 nationally in NCAA Division II men’s basketball. The Norse have not lost in Regents Hall since Dec. 6, 2001, when Kentucky Wesleyan College posted a 64-62 win over NKU.

NKU shot 56 percent from the field in the second half and held Bellarmine to just 38.8 percent shooting. The Norse also won the rebounding battle by a 43-34 margin as Smith grabbed a game-high nine boards.

Stowers added seven rebounds and three assists, he is now No. 20 on the all-time NKU scoring list with 1,094 career points.

NKU has beaten Bellarmine 17 consecutive times. Bellarmine’s last victory against NKU came on Feb. 3, 1994, when the Knights escaped with a 73-72 win in Regents Hall.

Bruce Johnson led Bellarmine with 17 points, and Brad Ayer finished with 15 points.

NKU, which is ranked No. 3 in the latest NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region poll, will play host to Saint Joseph’s College next Thursday night at 7:45 p.m. in Regents Hall.

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Quentin Smith