Norse Return to Regents Hall as Hosts of A-Sun Tournament Games
The Northern Kentucky University men's basketball team will now host a first-round game in the Atlantic Sun Championship after beating USC Upstate at home, 84-65 on Saturday night.
The Norse (13-16, A-Sun 7-7) enjoyed a career-high from guard Todd Johnson who had 24 points and eight three-pointers on the night. Tyler White added 19 points and three assists. Together, Johnson and White combined to shoot 11-19 from three-point land. The eight threes were Johnson's career high as well after making four from beyond the arc on four different occasions.
NKU started out behind, but ripped off an 11-0 run to gain an early lead in the first half. The Spartans came back to tie the score twice before halftime, but Johnson nailed one of his six first-halft threes as the buzzer sounded, putting the Norse up 35-32 at halftime.
The game remained close until the seven-minute mark when the Norse went on a 17-5 run capped off by a big-time alley opp from freshman guard Tayler Persons to junior center Jalen Billups which gave Northern a double-digit lead of 72-61. The tandem of Persons and Billups played well as Persons finished with 14 points and four assists while Billups managed 10 points and controlled the glass with 11 rebounds.
Before the game, two NKU seniors—Chad Jackson and Jordan Jackson—were honored for their time spent with the team. Chad Jackson finished the night with six points and six rebounds, while Jordan Jackson finished with six points as well.
The Norse will now host Lipscomb University on Tuesday, March 3 at 7pm at Regents Hall. NKU lost to Lipscomb earlier this season, 80-61, on January 10 in Nashville, but then beat the Bisons, 77-60, at home on February 7.
Women claim #3 seed
Christine Roush and Kaitlyn Gerrety combined for 40 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Northern Kentucky University women's basketball team to an 83-60 victory over South Carolina Upstate on Saturday in Atlantic Sun Conference action.
Roush scored a game-high 26 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the floor, including five 3-point field goals, dished out three assists and grabbed two rebounds for NKU, which improved to 17-12 overall and 8-6 in the Atlantic Sun. Gerrety recorded her second double-double of the season, adding 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Norse, who saw nine players get into the scorebook.
Both teams struggled to find a rhythm early in the first half, and a Sharmayne Edwards jumper pulled USC Upstate to within 10-9 at the 15:26 mark. NKU responded with a 21-2 run over the next 11 minutes, led by eight points from Roush, to take a 31-11 advantage with 4:34 left in the opening half.
A 3-pointer from Maddie Herr ended the Spartan scoring drought with 4:26 remaining, and a conventional three-point play from Herr followed a Roush jumper to cut the Norse advantage to 33-17 at the 3:57 mark. Kristen Dickerson drained a long-range trey to pull USC Upstate to within 33-20 less than one minute later. Brittany Clency buried a jumper to bring the Spartans to within 33-22 with 12 seconds to go in the half, but Kasey Uetrecht gave the Norse a 35-22 advantage at the break with a pull-up jumper that beat the buzzer.
NKU shot 44.8 percent, going 13-for-29, from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, while limiting USC Upstate to just 30.0 percent on 9-for-30 from the field, including an 18.2 percent (2-for-11) accuracy from long range.
The Norse wasted no time adding to their lead in the second half as a Melody Doss layup and Gerrety jumper stretched the advantage to 39-22 with 18:38 to go. The Spartans chipped away at their deficit and a Herr 3-pointer pulled them to within 41-30 two minutes later.
After a conventional three-point play from Brittany Starling brought USC Upstate to within 50-40 with 14:15 left to play, NKU went on a 12-3 run behind four points from Mikayla Terry and 3-pointers from Roush and Gerrety to give the Norse a 62-43 advantage with just over nine minutes to play.
The Spartans eventually cut the NKU lead to 13 at 73-60 with 2:22 remaining but were unable to get any closer the rest of the way as the Norse connected on 10 free throws down the stretch to hold off the USC Upstate rally.
NKU controlled the rebounding game, finishing with a 49-25 advantage. The Norse pulled down 14 offensive boards and scored 28 points in the paint.
Rianna Gayheart finished with eight points, seven assists and three rebounds for NKU, which ended the game shooting 47.5 percent (29-for-61) from the field, while Mikayla Terry added eight points, four rebounds and two assists. Doss grabbed eight rebounds and scored seven points, while Uetrecht also finished with seven points to go along with seven rebounds.
Herr paced USC Upstate, which fell to 14-15 on the year and 6-8 in the conference, with a career-high 20 points on 6-for-13 shooting from the floor. Herr knocked down five 3-pointers as Starling finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Edwards rounded out the double-figure contributors for the Spartans with 14 points and four rebounds.
NKU, which earned the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Sun Championship with the victory, will play host to the No. 6 seed in a first-round tournament contest in Regents Hall on Friday, March 6 at 7 p.m. Official pairings will be released by the conference office at the conclusion of all league games on Saturday evening.
The men's and women's games will be held at Regents Hall on campus, the teams' former home, and not the Bank of Kentucky Center. For complete tournament information, check out http://www.nkunorse.com/postseason.
-Staff report with notes from NKUNorse.com