Norse Go Down Big in Final Game of Season
Chase Fieler scored 22 points to lead Florida Gulf Coast to a 92-72 victory over Northern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon in The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Brett Comer added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists as Florida Gulf Coast (20-11) clinched a share of the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title with a 14-4 record. The Eagles shot 60.7 percent from the field in the first half to build a 46-28 lead at the break and remained unbeaten (4-0) all-time against Northern Kentucky.
"When shots weren't falling, that led to some things defensively where we weren't tough enough," Norse head coach Dave Bezold said. "If you're a half-second late on a switch or a screen or blocking out they're going to make you pay for it, and I think that was a big factor of the first half. We were down eight with about three minutes left in the first half, and then they hit us with a big run and we're down 18 at halftime."
Florida Gulf Coast closed the first half with an 11-1 run to turn a 35-27 lead into a 46-28 advantage at the break. Filip Cvjeticanin buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Eagles the 18-point halftime lead.
Jalen Billups scored 20 points to lead Northern Kentucky, which closed the season with a 9-21 overall record (5-13 in the Atlantic Sun). Tyler White added 18 points for the Norse, who finished with a 5-13 record in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Northern Kentucky shot 68.2 percent from the field in the second half, but Florida Gulf Coast made 51.6 percent of its attempts after the break and led by as many as 25 points. The bigger Eagles won the rebounding battle by a 39-21 margin.
"I always look at offensive rebounds as a key stat, and they had 15 of them," Bezold said. "They are just bigger, stronger and quicker than we are, and we missed a few block-out assignments as well, and you can't do that against a team like Florida Gulf Coast. Did we play better the second half? We made more shots. I just never felt like defensively we were tough enough throughout possessions."
Jordan Jackson added eight points for the Norse, and Cole Murray scored six points. Bernard Thompson collected a double-double for Florida Gulf Coast with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
In the first meeting on Dec. 30, Florida Gulf Coast rallied for a 60-56 win over Northern Kentucky in Fort Myers, Fla.
Northern Kentucky is now 65-18 all-time in The Bank of Kentucky Center. The Norse finished 7-7 at home this season.
NKU Women drop game at FGCU, 67-53
Whitney Knight scored 17 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor to lead the Florida Gulf Coast University women's basketball team to a 67-53 victory over Northern Kentucky University in Alico Arena in Atlantic Sun Conference action on Saturday night.
Knight finished 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc and 4-for-6 from the free-throw line for FGCU, which improved to 22-7 overall and 16-1 in the Atlantic Sun. She also pulled down nine rebounds, blocked three shots and collected one steal.
Stephanie Haas added 14 points and three steals for the Eagles, while Sarah Hansen, the reigning conference player of the week and the preseason player of the year, chipped in 12 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
Melody Doss and Christine Roush each scored 12 points to lead the way for NKU, which fell to 15-12 on the year and 11-5 in the Atlantic Sun. Roush finished 5-for-8 from the floor and pulled down six rebounds for the Norse.
NKU took an early 15-10 lead in the first half, but FGCU countered with a 10-0 run to take a 20-15 advantage halfway through the opening stanza. The Eagles held the Norse scoreless for almost four minutes during that stretch before Kaitlyn Gerrety hit a layup to end the NKU drought and bring the score to within 20-17 with 7:48 left in the half.
A 3-pointer by Doss brought the Norse to within two (22-20) with 6:10 left in the half, and NKU used an 8-2 run to take a 28-24 lead with 1:27 remaining before the break. Haas connected on two free throws to cut the Norse advantage to 28-26, but a basket by Doss pushed the lead back to four (30-26) with less than a minute left in the half.
Knight knocked down a 3-pointer on the other end of the court for a 30-29 halftime lead for NKU. The Eagles have only trailed at the half three times in Atlantic Sun play this season, including a 32-21 deficit at The Bank of Kentucky Center on Feb. 1 before the Norse cruised to a 63-43 victory to snap FGCU's 44-game regular season conference winning streak.
Both teams traded points over the first nine minutes of the second half before FGCU drained three consecutive 3-point field goals to give the Eagles a 51-42 lead with exactly eight minutes left to play.
The FGCU defense held the Norse scoreless for over four minutes during that stretch, but Gerrety ended the drought with a layup to cut the NKU deficit to 51-44 less than 20 seconds later. FGCU eventually stretched its lead to the largest of the game at 14 (58-44) on a layup by Jenna Cobb with 5:05 remaining.
Kayla Thacker hit a 3-pointer to bring NKU to within 11 (58-47), but Hansen put the Eagles ahead, 59-47, on a free throw with 3:15 left in the game. Lauren White's layup with just over two minutes remaining then brought the score to 59-49.
A layup by Thacker cut the FGCU lead to 59-51 with 1:06 on the clock, but the Norse were forced to foul. The Eagles converted on eight attempts from the charity stripe over the last minute of the game to hold on for the victory.
FGCU shot 42.0 percent on the night, including 10-for-22 in the first half, while NKU finished at 36.2 percent. Both teams pulled down 36 rebounds as the Eagles' bench outscored the Norse, 20-10.
Cobb rounded out the double-figure scorers for FGCU with 10 points, and she also added three rebounds and three assists on the night. Dunson dished out a game-high seven assists and scored five points for the Eagles, who went 16-for-22 from behind the charity stripe as NKU converted on four of its seven attempts.
Thacker finished with 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Norse, and White also put together a 10-point effort after going 4-for-9 from the floor. Gerrety added nine points, five rebounds and one blocked shot.
NKU returns to The Bank of Kentucky Center next week to close out the 2013-14 regular season. The Norse will host South Carolina Upstate on Thursday at 7 p.m., before welcoming East Tennessee State on Saturday at 1 p.m. Links to live stats, the ASun.TV broadcasts and the audio broadcasts will be available at nkunorse.com.