Ignited Freshmen, 13 Threes Lead NKU Over Lipscomb
Jack Flournoy and Tyler White apparently like the television spotlight, and the two Northern Kentucky freshmen staged career performances Friday night against visiting Lipscomb.
Playing for an Atlantic Sun Conference/CSS Friday Night Game of the Week audience, White was 4-for-6 from 3-point range, while Flournoy finished 4-for-5. NKU head coach Dave Bezold said those two ignited the team in the early stages after a slow start.
“Those two freshmen came in and gave us a big lift when we started off a bit sluggish, and the momentum they helped generate carried us in the first half,” Bezold said after his team improved to 4-9 overall, 2-3 in the A-Sun. “A great crowd was here, we were on the A-Sun network, and we played very well. You can't ask for a great deal more out of our guys, and I was really proud of the way they performed.”
Lipscomb (6-10 overall, 1-4 A-Sun) scored the first five points of the game, but the NKU freshmen soon took over. White scored the Norse's first five points, and Flournoy came off the bench and poured in 11 points during a 14-4 run that turned a 9-8 deficit into a 22-13 lead. Flournoy started the run with a 3-point field goal and capped the spurt with another trey.
“We did a good job of executing our offense, and I had some really good looks at the basket,” said Flournoy, whose previous career-high point total was 13 against Texas Tech in a regionally televised game on Dec. 4. “Making a lot of shots early gave us a lot of confidence, and it helped us a lot the rest of the game.”
White's 18 points surpassed his earlier career mark of 14, also set against Texas Tech.
“You can look at his points, but Tyler also did a great job defensively putting pressure on Lipscomb's guards.” Bezold said. “He was tremendous. Tyler is showing us what he can provide. He still has a lot of growth ahead of him. Everyone is going to look and see just the points, but he also had a tremendous game on defense.
NKU led by as many as 27 points in the second half before emptying the bench. The Norse shot 46 percent from the field for the game, including 53.6 percent in the first half to build a 44-28 lead at the break. By halftime, NKU was 10-for-17 from 3-point range.
Eshaunte Jones added 11 points for NKU, which evened the series with Lipscomb at 2-all. The teams had not played since the 1971-72 season, when then-David Lipscomb College defeated then-Northern Kentucky State College twice in three meetings.
NKU freshman Nate Snodgrass dished out a career-high seven assists, while senior guard Ethan Faulkner added nine points and three assists. The Norse held the Bisons to 3-for-16 shooting from 3-point range and 41.1 percent shooting from the field.
Malcolm Smith led the Bisons with 13 points. NKU held Lipscomb 6-foot-10 center Stephen Hurt to just six points, half of his season average. The Norse bench outscored the Bisons reserves 31-24, with 29 of those points from the efforts of Flournoy and Jones.
Friday night, though, belonged to the freshmen. But Bezold said that tag really doesn't apply now.
“It's great that they are there getting all of this experience, but at this point in the season, they aren't really freshmen,” Bezold said. “They have been through enough games and practices that they know what they are doing by now.”
NKU hits the road for a pair of games in Florida next week, beginning with a Thursday night A-Sun contest at Stetson at 7 p.m. The Norse conclude the trip Saturday with a game at Florida Gulf Coast.