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It's 2 in a Row as Norse Drop Hampton in OT, 69-67

From NKUNorse.com

Jordan Jackson's driving ability helped Northern Kentucky get back into Wednesday's game against Hampton, and then he won it by drilling a jump shot at the end of overtime.

Jackson, a junior guard who scored seven of his game-high 21 points in the final 4:05 of regulation and six more in overtime, sank a 17-foot jumper from just to the right of the key with 0.9 seconds left in overtime to give Northern Kentucky a 69-67 win over Hampton before a crowd of 1,092 at The Bank of Kentucky Center.

Northern Kentucky (3-7), which won its second straight game and beat Hampton (5-6) for the second consecutive year by two points (the Norse won 54-52 at Hampton last season), had a chance to win in regulation after it battled back from a 41-29 deficit it faced with 14:12 remaining, but Jackson missed a short runner along the left baseline as time expired.

Northern Kentucky's winning basket came after sophomore guard Todd Johnson forced Hampton into an over-and-back violation and the Norse were able to inbound along their own baseline with 11 seconds left in the overtime. Jackson inbounded the ball to sophomore center Jake Giesler, who handed it to Jackson, who dribbled out to the top of the key to go one-on-one. After hurting Hampton down the stretch and early in the first half driving the ball, he opted to pull up and shoot the 17-foot jumper instead.

"How odd is it that the guy who drives it the best, one of the best guys we've ever had here exploding to the rim hits a 17-foot jump shot to win the game," said NKU head coach Dave Bezold. "We called a safety where we knew their big was a little slow in getting out so we got it to Jake and he handed it Jordan and we just want to isolate him and he has to go make a play for us. The ball's in his hands and he did a heckuva job. He had to make up for the missed layup at the end of regulation."

Jackson said he took what Hampton's defense gave him.

"I just noticed they were all packed in the paint and heavy on my left side so I figured why not just pull up," he said. "I thought it was going in all the way."

Hampton's Brian Darden attempted a 40-footer at the buzzer, but the ball hit the rim and bounced to the floor.

The Norse are now 2-0 in overtime games this season. Northern Kentucky is 2-0 all-time against Hampton.

The Norse rallied behind Giesler and sophomore forward Jack Flournoy, who hadn't practiced much the last couple of days due to a minor injury and almost wasn't going to be able to play in Wednesday's game because of it. Giesler scored 14 second-half points and added another bucket in overtime to finish with his career-high 16 points, while Flournoy had eight second-half points and added a layup in the overtime to finish with 13 points.  With four minutes left in the game the two had combined to make 10 of 17 shots from the field, while the rest of the team had combined to go 3 for 28 at that point.

"We don't win the game without those two," said Bezold. "I have a rule you don't practice you don't get to play. Jack hasn't practiced, he just shot a little bit and has been very ginger where he had an odd thing happen at practice and I didn't think he was playing. He came to me this morning at shootaround and said, 'I feel OK coach I feel pretty good.' Jake and Jack it was their night."

Both teams had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Hampton's Ramon Mercado missed a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left and still 17 seconds left on the shot clock, then Jackson, who had tied the score at 59-59 with a free throw with 41 seconds remaining, missed the runner along the baseline.

Hampton (5-6), which won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament championship last season and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Duke, warmed up considerably after starting the game 2 of 13 from the field and falling behind 15-5. The Pirates made 8 of their final 16 shots of the first half and 12 of 24 shots from the field in the second half, but went just 3 of 8 in overtime.

Northern Kentucky trailed at halftime 28-26 after making just one of its final 15 shots from the field over the final 17:02 of the half. The Norse were able to maintain a lead until Mercado hit a 3-pointer just ahead of the halftime buzzer  thanks to making 16 of 20 first-half free throws (Hampton was whistled for just 12 team fouls in the half as most came while the Norse were shooting, twice on 3-point attempts).

"They're good defensively and the way we run offense they're going to stay nice and soft and dare you to shoot jump shots and collapse hard," said Bezold. "The first half when you're missing layups and then our shooters never got great clean looks... it makes you a little gun shy."

Sophomore guard Deron Powers led Hampton with 16 points, 13 coming after halftime, and senior forward Du'Vaughn Maxwell had 14 points, six rebounds and six blocked shots.

Northern Kentucky concludes its three-game homestand Saturday at noon when Navy visits The Bank of Kentucky Center. Saturday will also be Military Appreciation Day, presented by the Kentucky National Guard.

In addition, Lieutenant Commander John Hiltz, a native of Fort Mitchell, Ky., and a member of the Blue Angels, will be in attendance and sit on the Navy bench as an honorary coach. Hiltz is also a Covington Catholic High School graduate. 

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