Norse Routed at Home by SC-Upstate
A balanced scoring attack keyed South Carolina Upstate's 76-59 win at Northern Kentucky on Saturday night in The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Torrey Craig netted 16 points to lead four USC Upstate players in double figures. Jodd Maxey added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Spartans, while Mario Blessing (11) and Fred Miller (10) also scored in double digits.
USC Upstate (14-11 overall, 7-5 Atlantic Sun Conference) used a 16-0 run in the first half to turn a 20-19 deficit into a 35-20 lead. The Spartans eventually owned a 39-22 advantage, but Northern Kentucky scored the final five points of the half to make it a 39-27 game at the break.
Northern Kentucky began the second half with an 11-6 run to cut the USC Upstate lead to 45-38 when Tyler White buried a 3-pointer. The Spartans responded with five straight points to build a 50-38 advantage and coasted to the win.
"I thought we had really good effort out there, but USC Upstate hit some very difficult shots, and some of the guys who hit them weren't shooting well coming into the game," Norse head coach Dave Bezold said. "They built a big lead and we fought back, but they just hit some tough shots and made big plays to take back the momentum."
Jordan Jackson led Northern Kentucky with 18 points. Jack Flournoy came off the bench and added 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. The Norse (8-17 overall, 4-9 Atlantic Sun) shot 42.9 percent from the field, compared to 49.1 percent for USC Upstate.
"As tough as it's been for the last two-and-a-half weeks with some really tough losses here and there, and some difficult lessons, they're still coming in every day and trying to stay together, to fight together, and grow up in a tough environment," Bezold said. "And then, the 2-3 zone is really making it difficult for us. Jordan Jackson is so important to us with his penetration. I know he had 18 [points], but they cut off a lot of his drives. His penetration frees up our big guys inside for more productive nights, and the 2-3 zone is taking away some of that right now."
Dean Danos added eight points and three assists, while Jalen Billups scored six points and blocked three shots. USC Upstate finished with a 35-28 advantage on the boards and improved to 3-1 in the all-time series against Northern Kentucky.
The Norse are now 64-17 all-time in The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Northern Kentucky plays at Kennesaw State on Thursday night. The Norse conclude the two-game road trip Saturday with a game against Mercer in Macon, Ga.
Kennessaw State Beats NKU Women
The Northern Kentucky University women's basketball was unable to overcome a slow first half as Kennesaw State defeated the Norse, 53-39, on Saturday afternoon at the KSU Convocation Center in Atlantic Sun Conference play.
Kristina Wells scored 16 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the way for Kennesaw State, which improved to 6-16 overall and 4-7 in the Atlantic Sun. She finished 8-for-10 from the free throw line and collected four assists and four steals. Bria Young added 13 points and four rebounds for the Owls.
Kennesaw State held NKU scoreless during the first five minutes of the game until Sarah Kinch put the Norse on the scoreboard with a free throw. Kayla Thacker knocked down a jumper just inside the paint for the first field goal for NKU with 6:04 left in the first half to cut the NKU deficit to 12-5 after starting 0-for-16 from the floor.
After Kelley Wiegman added a free throw for the Norse, the Owls finished the first half on a 10-0 run to take a 22-6 lead into the break. Kennesaw State shot 31 percent from the floor and forced 10 NKU turnovers for a halftime advantage.
The Norse opened the second half with an 8-3 run behind four points each from Christine Roush and Rianna Gayheart to pull to within 25-14 with 14:52 remaining in the game, but the Owls stretched the lead back to 16 (32-16) with 9:25 left on the clock.
A 9-3 run cut the NKU deficit to 35-25 with just over six minutes left on the clock, and Thacker later cut the Kennesaw State lead to under double figures at 37-28 with a 3-point field goal. Wells, however, answered with a trey of her own to push the lead back to 12 (40-28), and the Norse were unable to get any closer than 11 the rest of the way.
NKU's six points set a school record for the lowest points in a half, and its 4.5 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes also set a new school mark.
The Norse shot 39.4 percent in the second half to end the day at 25.5 percent from the floor, while the Owls finished the game having connected on 34.7 percent of its attempts from the field. The Norse won the rebounding battle by a 42-40 margin for its first loss of the season when outrebounding the opponent.
Deandrea Sawyers finished with nine points, four rebounds and four assists for the Owls, which earned its first victory against the Norse with the win, while Lisa Capellan added seven points and six rebounds.
Thacker pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds and scored nine points to lead the way for NKU, which fell to 12-10 overall and 8-3 in the Atlantic Sun and still holds a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams. Roush finished with six points and seven rebounds, while Gayheart, Wiegman and Lauren White added six points each as well.
NKU returns to The Bank of Kentucky Center Thursday to play host to North Florida at 7 p.m. On Jan. 16, Roush and Wiegman combined to score 26 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals to help lead the Norse to a 57-51 victory over North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., to take a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series. Links to live stats, video and audio will available at nkunorse.com.