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NKU Women Beat Lipscomb, Improve to 6-1 in Atlantic Sun

From NKUNorse.com

Kayla Thacker scored 18 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds to lead the Northern Kentucky University women's basketball team to a 72-65 victory over Lipscomb on Saturday at The Bank of Kentucky Center in Atlantic Sun Conference play.

Thacker, who scored a career-high 23 points against Lipscomb in the last meeting between the two schools on Feb. 9, 2013, equaled her career best in rebounds for the third time as a Norse with her first double-double of the season.  It also marked the senior guard's third career double-double.

Sarah Kinch finished one shy of her career high in points with 15 on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor.  She pulled down four rebounds, while Christine Roush added 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot for the Norse.

"We are an equal-opportunity offense, so whatever the defense gives us, we're able to take advantage of and score in different ways," NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.  "I thought Sarah Kinch came in the game and gave us a big boost tonight.  She did a very good job in the first half getting to the rim, and in the second half she did a little bit of it as well and also did a very good job defensively.  Kayla played very well down the stretch.  Those two kids did a very good job of understanding rhythm and flow, got some good shots and made them for us."

NKU, which improved to 10-8 overall and 6-1 in the Atlantic Sun, took a 40-28 advantage into the halftime break, but Lipscomb used a 10-3 run to open the second half and cut the NKU lead to 43-38 with 16:56 left.  The Norse responded with a 16-5 spurt to push the score to 59-43 with 10:33 remaining on the clock, but the Lady Bisons once again fought back.

Lipscomb, which fell to 3-15 on the year and 0-7 in the conference, held NKU scoreless during a six-minute span and scored 13 straight points to cut their deficit to three (59-56) with 4:33 left in the game behind nine points from Chandler Cooper.  Thacker ended the drought with a layup to give the Norse a 56-51 advantage on the next possession.

Ashley Southern and Thacker traded points before Thacker drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to give NKU a 66-58 lead.  Sara Bliss answered with a trey of her own to pull the Lady Bisons to within five (66-61) before Lauren White scored four consecutive points for a 70-61 Norse lead with less than a minute on the clock.

Cooper stopped the short NKU run with a jumper, but White and Thacker converted free throws to seal the victory for the Norse.

"Whenever we hit a shot and they would come down and hit a shot or get fouled or something, we're in the huddle and I'm just making sure that we're all positive, staying together and that we don't get down on ourselves," Thacker said.  "We've got to make sure to get a stop this time and make sure that we come back.  We can't have them come down, get a shot and not have an answer for it.  So we're just constantly talking and making sure that we're going to get the job done."

NKU scored the first 10 points of the game behind a pair of 3-point field goals by Melody Doss to bookend the run and two put-backs by Thacker.  After Lipscomb pulled to within five (22-17), the Norse answered with a 10-0 run to take a 32-17 lead with 6:06 remaining in the first half before taking their 40-28 halftime lead.

"I thought that this was a hard-fought battle for our kids," Plitzuweit said.  "I give them a lot of credit because they had to weather a few storms.  Lipscomb is a very good team, and I thought they played extremely well.  During the bye week, they did some things that were a little bit different.  They mixed up some lineups, put some kids on the floor that really helped them space the floor, changed defensively and did a very good job there, and they played a man, which we haven't seen a whole lot. Lipscomb played very well, and to our kids' credit, they found a way to gut it out and win."

Kelley Wiegman finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists for the Norse, who shot 45.9 percent from the floor on the night.  Doss scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Kaitlyn Gerrety blocked three shots for NKU.

The Norse finished with eight blocked shots on the night and only committed eight turnovers, including just three in the first half.  NKU's bench players outscored Lipscomb's reserves, 24-9, while the Lady Bisons shot just 38.8 from the field and 30.8 percent from behind the arc.

Cooper led the Lady Bisons with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Southern recorded her 14th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.  Danay Fothergill, the reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Week, finished with 17 points for Lipscomb, which outrebounded NKU by a 40-39 margin.

With the win, the Norse improved to 3-0 in the all-time series with Lipscomb and 7-0 on the year when scoring at least 70 points.

NKU continues its homestand against the top two teams in the Atlantic Sun as the Norse welcome Stetson on Thursday to The Bank of Kentucky Center before hosting Florida Gulf Coast, which tops the conference.  Both contests are set to start at 7 p.m.  Live stats, video and audio will be available at nkunorse.com.

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