Norse Pick Up First Win, Defeat Tulane in OT
Northern Kentucky's early-season schedule had the Norse well prepared for Saturday night's road game against Tulane.
Having Jalen Billups dominating the inside helps, too.
Billups scored 13 of his career-high 25 points in overtime as Northern Kentucky collected its first victory of the season with a 91-86 win over previously unbeaten Tulane in Devlin Fieldhouse. The Norse, who had faced Purdue, then-No. 1 Kentucky, unbeaten San Diego and Morehead State to begin the season, rallied from an early 10-point deficit and used the inside scoring of Billups in overtime to defeat the Green Wave in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
Tulane (4-1) took a 72-70 lead with 9.7 seconds remaining in regulation when Jay Hook drove inside for a basket. Northern Kentucky (1-4) responded as Tyler White went the length of the court and converted a driving layup with 3.9 seconds left on the clock to force overtime.
In the overtime, Billups went to work inside. The 6-foot-6 sophomore controlled the paint with five baskets, including a thunderous dunk. Billups, in fact, did not miss a shot in the extra session and finished 10-for-11 from the field with seven rebounds and three blocks.
"Jalen was incredible inside," Norse head coach Dave Bezold said. "He absolutely took the game over. We did a good job of getting him the ball, and he finished. Jalen is a very talented player, and he was just dominant in the overtime. It's a tremendous win for our program. The guys hung in there, played very tough and it's always great to win on the road."
Billups' previous career-high point total was 16 against Lane College on Nov. 18, 2011.
Cole Murray buried five 3-pointers and scored a career-high 17 points for the Norse, who shot 56.6 percent from the field. White added 13 points and a career-best seven assists for Northern Kentucky, which connected on 85.7 percent of its shots in the overtime.
Jordan Jackson finished with 11 points and four assists for the Norse, while teammate Anthony Monaco dished out a career-high seven assists.
"We had a number of players step up and give us great effort," Bezold said. "Tulane started off very fast, was up 10 points, but our guys kept battling and good things happened."
Saturday night's game was part of the Cure UCD Classic, a five-team tournament. Tulane began the tournament earlier in the week by defeating Cedarville, 68-58.
Hook led Tulane with 29 points, and Jonathan Stark scored 24. The Green Wave shot 49 percent from the field and was 31-for-43 from the free-throw line.
It was Northern Kentucky's first overtime win since Jan. 5, 2012, when the Norse posted a 76-72 triumph over William Jewell in Highland Heights, Ky.
Northern Kentucky concludes the Cure UCD Classic next weekend in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with games against Southeast Missouri State (Nov. 29) and Texas State (Nov. 30). Both of those games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.
NKU Women fall to Western Kentucky
Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan combined for 36 points and 23 rebounds to lead the Western Kentucky University women's basketball team to a 74-64 victory over Northern Kentucky University on Saturday night at The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Gooch scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Lady Toppers, while Govan added 16 points and seven rebounds. Micah Jones and Bianca McGee each scored 10 points to help Western Kentucky improve to 4-1 on the year.
"I thought our opponent was very talented and we really had our hands full tonight," NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. "They're such a good team offensively that when we missed assignments, they seemed to make us pay every time."
Melody Doss led NKU (2-3) for the fifth consecutive game with 19 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots, despite getting into early foul trouble. Lauren White finished with a career-high 18 points and went 14-for-18 from the free throw line. White's 14 made free throw attempts were one shy of the single-game record of 15 set three separate occasions.
Western Kentucky closed the first half with a 10-4 run to take a 41-31 lead into the break. The Lady Toppers stretched their lead to 51-34 with 15:12 remaining in the game on a layup by McGee, but the Norse responded with a 13-4 run capped by a Christine Roush jumper to cut their deficit to six (55-49) with 7:24 left.
Gooch, the reigning Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week, then responded on the next play following a Western Kentucky timeout with a jumper in the middle of the lane to end the NKU run. A fast-break jumper by Govan, the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year, extended the Lady Toppers lead back to double digits (59-49) with 6:49 to play.
The Norse cut the deficit under 10 four more times but could get no closer than eight the rest of the way. NKU committed only nine turnovers on the night, while forcing 18 by Western Kentucky to stay in the game.
"Offensively for us, to our players' credit, we took care of the ball. That's sometimes hard to do when you're not making shots, and we didn't do that tonight," Plitzuweit said. "I felt like we had some good looks, and they just didn't fall for us."
The taller Lady Toppers finished the night with a 47-34 edge in rebounding and limited NKU to 29 percent shooting from the floor. The Norse were 4-for-19 (.211) from behind the 3-point arc and converted on only one out of seven attempts during the second half.
Kayla Thacker added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Sarah Kinch finished with a career-high nine points, four rebounds and three steals for the Norse.
With the win, Western Kentucky now holds an 11-8 advantage in the all-time series between the two programs.
NKU travels to Moon Township, Pa., on Friday to participate in the Robert Morris Thanksgiving Classic. The Norse take on the host Colonials at 1:30 p.m. and conclude the two-day tournament against Tennessee-Martin on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Live stats and audio for both days, including video on Friday, will be available on nkunorse.com.