NKU Men Lose to, Women Beat Lipscomb
Tyler White had his second 20-point effort of the season, but Northern Kentucky struggled to find its shooting touch for the first 30 minutes of the game in an 80-61 loss to Lipsomb in the Atlantic Sun opener for both teams.
"We were down 10 points headed into halftime, but didn't feel too bad because a few of our guys were in foul trouble," said head coach Dave Bezold. "By the time we found our rhythm in the second half, we had dug too deep of a hole. As a team, we have to put this game behind us and start preparing for Kennesaw State."
Northern Kentucky (6-10, 0-1 A-Sun) opened the game connecting on three of its first four shots from the floor to nab a 6-2 lead, but struggled to find its range throughout the remainder of the first half. The Norse closed the stanza shooting just 28.6 percent (8-of-28), including 6.3 percent (1-of-16) from long range.
The exact opposite held true for Lipscomb (7-9, 1-0 A-Sun), which opened the period missing its first three shots before closing the half shooting 46.2 percent (12-of-26) from the field.
Consecutive baskets from Jalen Billups and Tayler Persons cut NKU's halftime deficit to single digits at 40-31, Nathan Moran knocked down three 3-pointers to key a 16-2 run by the Bisons that put the Norse behind, 52-31.
The Norse finally began to find their range from deep with seven minutes left to play, but the damage had been done and NKU fell, 80-61.
White scored 17 of his team-high 20 points after halftime, knocking down 4-of-6 shots from deep. Billups tallied 14 points on the strength of 5-of-7 shooting and hauled in five boards. Persons was the third Norse to reach double-figures, posting a 10-point, five rebound and five assist outing.
NKU closed the game at 41.1 percent (23-of-56) shooting, but made just 20 percent (6-of-30) of its threes. Lipscomb made 44.1 percent (26-of-59) of its attempts and 33.3 percent (10-of-30) from deep.
Josh Williams scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Bisons. He was joined by Malcolm Smith (17), Moran (15) and Aaron Korn (13) in double-figures.
The first home action of the 2014-15 A-Sun Conference season awaits NKU, which hosts Kennesaw State on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 7:00 p.m. in The Bank of Kentucky Center. Northern Kentucky's dance team will put its performance for nationals on display at halftime.
Rianna Gayheart scored a season-high 20 points and pulled down a career-high eight rebounds to lead the Northern Kentucky University women's basketball team to an 81-70 victory over Lipscomb University to open Atlantic Sun Conference action on Saturday evening in Allen Arena.
Gayheart knocked down a pair of 3-point field goals, dished out a game-high six assists and went 6-for-7 from the free-throw line to lead NKU, which improved to 10-6 overall and 1-0 in the Atlantic Sun.
"It was good that we all played well together as a team," Gayheart said of the win. "It is always a good feeling to get the first conference win in the books, and we want it to set the tone for the rest of the season and keep getting those wins."
Christine Roush finished with 17 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the floor, and she was perfect (7-for-7) from the charity stripe, while Shar'Rae Davis recorded her third-straight game in double-figures, adding 13 points and five rebounds off the bench.
After Lipscomb opened the game's scoring with a 3-point field goal from Chandler Cooper, the Norse responded with seven-straight points to take a 7-3 lead with 16:54 left in the half. The Lady Bisons answered with a 5-0 run to regain the lead at 8-7 less than one minute later.
Both teams traded short spurts over the next nine minutes until a Danay Fothergill layup cut the Norse lead to 19-16 at the 7:40 mark. Over the next 4:34, NKU went on a 15-3 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3-point field goals from Rianna Gayheart and Christine Roush, to stretch its advantage to 34-19 with 2:59 remaining in the opening stanza. The Norse defense did not let up, taking a 40-26 lead into the halftime break.
NKU shot 41.4 percent (12-for-29), including six 3-point field goals, for the first half lead. Lipscomb went 9-for-28 (.321) from the field to open the game.
Fothergill began the second half scoring for both teams with a 3-pointer to cut the Norse advantage to 40-29. After a jumper from Kelley Wiegman, Ashley Southern hit a layup on the other end of the court before the Norse used an 8-2 run for a 16-point (50-34) lead with 15:04 remaining.
Lipscomb continued to battle and eventually used a 13-4 spurt, highlighted by a trio of 3-pointers from Sara Bliss and Fothergill, while limiting NKU to just 1-for-8 from the floor during the run to come to within 60-53 with 7:17 left to play.
Mikayla Terry knocked down a trey of her own on the next Norse possession before a Cooper 3-point field goal and two free throws from Southern cut NKU's lead to 63-58 at the 5:29 mark. NKU and Lipscomb traded layups before the Norse went on a 17-5 run to gain their largest lead of the game, 80-63, with 1:12 on the clock, and NKU held on for the win.
"This is a tough place to play, and I thought the team found a way to be successful against a very good team," NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. "Lipscomb got some really good shots and took advantage of some scenarios that were tough for us, but our kids found a way to be successful on the road, which is really important."
NKU finished with a 39-31 advantage in rebounds and shot 43.1 percent (25-for-58) from the field after going 13-for-29 (.448) in the second half. The Norse bench outscored Lipscomb's by a 28-13 margin, while they finished with 10 second-chance points to the Lady Bisons' four.
Fothergill led the Lipscomb offense, which finished the game shooting 39.0 percent (23-for-59), with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the floor, including a 5-for-10 effort from long range. Cooper scored 12 points on four 3-pointers, while Sara Bliss added 10 points, three rebounds and three assists for the Lady Bisons, who knocked down 12 treys. Southern finished with nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
NKU stays on the road for a midweek Atlantic Sun matchup against Kennesaw State on Jan. 14 before returning to The Bank of Kentucky Center to welcome South Carolina Upstate three days later for Shoot Around Saturday. Both contests are set to tip off at 7 p.m., and links to live stats and the ESPN3 broadcasts are available at NKUNorse.com.
From NKU Norse