March 12, 2003
NKU PREPARES FOR FINDLAY
Norse (25-5) to face talented Oilers (22-7) in NCAA opener
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University mens basketball team will meet the University of Findlay in the opening game of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament at noon this Friday in Houghton, Mich.
NKU - ranked No. 4 nationally in the latest NCAA Division II poll - is 25-5 after capturing the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament championship last Saturday night with a 58-55 win over Lewis University. The Norse are the No. 3 seed in the NCAA II Great Lakes Region, while Findlay (22-7) - which dropped a 68-66 decision to Michigan Tech University in the championship game of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament last Saturday - is the No. 6 seed.
Michigan Tech (28-2) - ranked No. 1 nationally in the NCAA Division II poll and the top-seeded host for the Great Lakes Region Tournament - will square off against No. 8 seed University of Indianapolis (18-10).
Kentucky Wesleyan College (26-3) is the No. 2 seed and will face seventh-seeded Gannon (Pa.) University (20-9) in the first round, with the winner to face either NKU or Findlay in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Saturday. The championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. next Monday (March 17).
STOWERS, ST-PREUX POWER NKU TO GLVC TITLE: Seniors Brenden Stowers and Bobby St-Preux keyed the Norses 58-55 win over Lewis last Saturday to lift NKU to its first-ever GLVC Tournament title. Stowers scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half as NKU rallied from a 13-point deficit.
Stowers, who leads NKU in scoring at 16.0 points per game, was named the GLVC Tournaments most valuable player.
St-Preux, meanwhile, also proved to be one of the top performers during the GLVC Tournament with clutch baskets. During the Norses 64-55 win over the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in the first round, St-Preux scored eight consecutive points midway through the second half to power NKU to the victory.
In the championship game with the shot clock winding down, St-Preux took a pass at the top of the key, drove the left side of the lane and hit a 10-foot running jumper to extend NKUs lead to 58-55 with six seconds left in the game. St-Preux averages 10.2 ppg and has 30 blocked shots this season.
BACK IN THE BIG SHOW: NKU returns to the NCAA Tournament after missing out on the postseason event a year ago. The Norse have also earned NCAA Tournament berths in 1978, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001.
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: NKU is 13-8 all-time in the NCAA Division II Tournament. NKU advanced to the NCAA Division II national championship game twice (in 1996 and 1997). This is NKUs eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and the Norse are making their seventh trip in the last nine years.
NKU has not lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since the 1977-78 season, when Indiana State University-Evansville (now Southern Indiana) knocked off the Norse in the opening game.
STOWERS NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-GLVC: NKU senior guard Brenden Stowers has been named first team All-GLVC by the league coaches. Stowers enters the NCAA Tournament having scored in double figures in 18 consecutive games, and he now ranks No. 14 on the NKU all-time scoring list with 1,291 career points.
NKU senior forward Quentin Smith earned second team All-GLVC accolades for the Norse. Smith averages 13.2 ppg and a team-leading 7.8 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 53.7 percent from the field.
SHIELDS NEARS 300 CAREER WINS: NKU head coach Ken Shields enters the NCAA Tournament with 290 career victories with the Norse. Shields, in his 15th season at NKU, is the Norse's all-time winningest coach at 290-154. He was named GLVC co-Coach of the Year earlier this week.
NKU AGAINST THE NCAA II GREAT LAKES REGION FIELD: NKU owns a 7-4 record this season against teams in the NCAA II Great Lakes Region Tournament. NKU was 3-0 against Lewis, 1-1 against Kentucky Wesleyan, 1-2 against Southern Indiana, 1-1 against Indianapolis and 1-0 against Findlay.
KELSEY NAMED ALL-TOURNAMENT: NKU sophomore guard Mike Kelsey was named to the GLVCs All-Tournament Team last week. Kelsey averages 14.7 ppg and leads NKU in three-pointers made with 80. He also earned honorable mention All-GLVC honors this season.
STOWERS NAMED DAKTRONICS ALL-REGION: NKUs Brenden Stowers was named second team Daktronics All-Great Lakes Region this week in a ballot conducted by sports information directors from both the GLIAC and GLVC.
ABOUT FINDLAY: The Oilers enter the NCAA Tournament with a 22-7 record. Findlay finished first in the GLIAC South Division and runner-up in that leagues postseason tournament.
Findlay is led by junior forward Brad Rethman, who averages 14.2 ppg and 5.2 rpg. Rethman is shooting 55.8 percent from the field and also has 45 steals. Freshman forward Frank Phillips averages 11.8 ppg and has made 57.7 percent of his shots from the field. Senior guard Charles Warren is scoring 11.6 ppg and has made 46 three-point shots this season.
Sophomore guard Tyson McGlaughlin averages 10.5 ppg and leads Findlay in three-pointers made with 71. Freshman guard Dustin Pfeifer averages 9.9 ppg and has connected on 41 three-pointers this season.
EARLIER THIS SEASON AGAINST FINDLAY: In the season opener on Nov. 22, Jesse Rupe scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds as NKU defeated Findlay, 70-62, in the first round of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic in Regents Hall.
Quentin Smith and Brenden Stowers each added 12 points for the Norse. NKU built a 39-29 halftime lead by shooting 56 percent from the field and holding Findlay to 30 percent from the field. The Oilers, however, used an 11-1 run to begin the second half and tied the score at 40-40 when Brad Rethman finished off a conventional three-point play with a free throw.
Rupe and Smith responded with field goals to give NKU a 44-40 lead, and the Norse led the remainder of the game. Brenden Stowers - who converted 10 of 14 free throws - made a clutch basket while being fouled with 4:06 remaining in the game, and he hit the free throw to complete the three-point play to give NKU a 62-56 lead.
Mike Kelsey scored 11 points for the Norse, who shot 47.8 percent from the field. Smith grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds for NKU, and Chris Seabrooks finished with nine points.
Frank Phillips led Findlay with 13 points. The Oilers made just 36.2 percent of their shots from the field and committed 18 turnovers.
IF IT HAPPENS...: If NKU should advance to meet Kentucky Wesleyan in the semifinals, it will mark the third time in the past four years the two have played in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky Wesleyan won the previous two meetings, posting a 66-62 victory over the Norse in 2000, and then adding a 59-57 win against NKU in 2001. Both of those games were played in Owensboro, Ky.