Feb. 7, 2004

UMSL PULLS OFF UPSET OF NORSE, 59-57

Birkey hits the game winner to defeat Norse

ST. LOUIS - Kali Birkey hit a 10-foot jumper with 4.3 seconds remaining in the game Saturday to give the University of Missouri-St. Louis women's basketball team a 59-57 win over Northern Kentucky University in the Mark Twain Building.

NKU's Connie Myers had tied the game at 57-57 with 18.8 seconds remaining when she grabbed an offensive rebound and powered in a layup. After a timeout, Missouri-St. Louis held the ball for the final shot, and Deborah Dibella worked the ball inside to Birkey on the right side of the lane.

Birkey banked in a 10-footer to give the Riverwomen a 59-57 lead with just 4.3 seconds on the clock. NKU hurried the ball down the court, but Nikki Perkins' desperation attempt was off target and Missouri-St. Louis collected just its second win in 14 meetings with the Norse.

Birkey finished with 16 points for Missouri-St. Louis, which improved to 5-16 overall, 2-12 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Crystal Lambert led the Riverwomen with 18 points.

"We’re not playing well, and I’m not happy with our effort,” said NKU head coach Nancy Winstel. “We’re playing not to lose, instead of to win.”

NKU (13-7 overall, 8-6 GLVC) held an eight-point lead three times in the second half, but Missouri-St. Louis used a 9-0 run to take a 41-40 advantage with 13:33 remaining when Lambert drained a jumper. Elizabeth Burrows hit a three-pointer to give NKU a 43-41 lead with 13:17 left in the game, and the Norse eventually took a 50-46 advantage when Karyn Creager finished off a conventional three-point play with 8:43 on the clock.

Dibella gave Missouri-St. Louis a 57-55 lead with 1:56 left in the game when she made a jumper from the top of the key, and after a series of turnovers by both teams, NKU gained possession trailing 57-55. Sharell Snardon missed a short jumper in the lane, but Myers grabbed the offensive rebound and scored to tie the game and set up Birkey's last-second heroics.

Jessica Brock led NKU with 15 points and eight rebounds, and Perkins added 12 points. NKU, however, shot just 35 percent from the field in the second half and lost for the first time in history in the Mark Twain Building.

“Jessica Brock had a nice game off the bench for us today,” Winstel said.

Going into Saturday, NKU was 7-0 all-time against the Riverwomen in the Mark Twain Building.

NKU, which is ranked No. 5 in the latest NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region poll, will return home and play host to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville this Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

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Jessica Brock