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NKU Women Beat Cincinnati

Rianna Gayheart posted a season-high 12 points to lead the Northern Kentucky University women's basketball team to its first home victory of the season, 66-52, over the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday night in The Bank of Kentucky Center.

Three Norse players finished in double-figures as NKU returned home to The Bank of Kentucky Center for the first time since they last hosted Ohio on Nov. 25. Kaitlyn Gerrety and Christine Roush each finished with 11 points. Melody Doss and Kelley Wiegman led the rebounding effort with seven boards each, and both contributed nine points apiece as NKU improved to 6-5 on the season.

Jasmine Whitfield produced a game-high 15 points for Cincinnati (1-8). Forward Marley Hill finished with a double-double, collecting 14 points and 11 rebounds, and guard Ana Owens contributed 10 points for the Bearcats.
Both teams opened the game with sharp shooting. The Bearcats shot 54.5 percent (6-for-11) from the field, and the Norse began the game shooting 50.0 percent (5-for-10) from the floor in the opening five minutes. After trading baskets, the Norse grabbed their first lead, 15-14, on a 3-pointer from Kaitlyn Gerrety with just over 14 minutes remaining until halftime.

With NKU holding an 18-16 lead on a Kelley Wiegman trey, UC answered with a pair of buckets to retake a 20-18 advantage with 9:23remaining in the first. Rianna Gayheart would answer for the Norse with six-straight points, giving NKU a 24-20 lead, which they would not surrender.

“Marley Hill is so hard to handle down low,” said NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “And, Cincinnati does such a great job offensively. Defensively, our kids really had to battle and grind it out.”

The Norse produced even scoring with 12 points from the bench players and 10 points scored in the paint through the first half. NKU tightened down defensively, holding UC to just 2-for-13 shooting in the final nine minutes of the opening frame as the Norse extended the lead to 32-26 going into the half. NKU bested the Bearcats in the first half, shooting with 37.5 percent (12-for-32) from the field compared to UC shooting 33.3 percent (11-for-33). The NKU offense produced 21 of its first half points from beyond the 3-point line, shooting 35.0 percent (7-for-20).

“Offensively, we want to feed the hot hand,” added Plitzuweit. “But that can be any player on any given night for us. We are an equal-opportunity offense, trying to take advantage of mismatches. But, I don’t think we are totally there yet.”

The Norse rode the momentum of a 9-0 run early in the second half to take a 41-31 lead with 16:28 remaining in the game. The Bearcats would only get to within seven points of matching the Norse through the conclusion of the second half. Cincinnati outrebounded NKU 41-38, but the Norse finished with more points scored in the lane with 22 compared to 16 from the taller Bearcats.

NKU finished the night with 37.9 percent (22-for-58) shooting from the field, while the Bearcats shot 36.2 percent (21-for-58). The Norse made good on their trips to the free-throw line, connecting on 82.4 percent (14-for-17) of their attempts.

“We have our third game in five days when we take on Delaware,” said Plitzuweit. “We have one day to prep for Friday. And, playing this caliber of teams will hopefully prepare us for conference play.”

NKU returns to action this Friday to face the Blue Hens of Delaware at a neutral court on the University of Cincinnati campus at 7 p.m. The Black and Gold will return home to host IUPUI on Dec. 30 with a 7 p.m. tip.

From NKU Norse

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