The Northern Kentucky Norse returned home and snapped a two game losing streak on Thursday as they temporarily knocked the Mercer Bears out of first place in the Atlantic Sun with a 63-46 victory.
The Norse (5-11, 3-5 A-Sun) were led by Eshaunte Jones, who started in his first game since Dec. 31. Jones scored 26 and was aided by 12 points each from Chad Jackson and Ethan Faulkner. Bud Thomas was the only player in double figures for Mercer (12-5, 5-3) as he finished with 16.
Scoring was at a premium to start the game as each team managed only seven points in the first ten minutes of the game. Three 3-pointers from Jones along with four points from John Staley gave the Norse a 20-12 lead with three minutes left in the first half. Mercer failed to make a field goal in the last six minutes, but did get six free throws down the stretch to get within four before a pair of Jones' free throws and a Todd Johnson jumper put the Norse up 26-18 at the half.
Both teams were much quicker in getting the scoring started in the second half as Thomas knocked down a 3-pointer on the first shot to cut the Norse lead to five. A free throw from Jackson and 3-pointers by Jones and Faulkner gave the Norse a double digit lead.
NKU would keep Mercer at a distance as the Bears only got a close as six points when Thomas made yet another 3-pointer to make it 49-43. From there the Norse scored 14 straight points to put the game out of reach. Mercer would get one more 3-pointer to end the scoring at 63-46.
The Norse remain at home this weekend as they will host a double header with the women's team for Homecoming this Saturday against Kennesaw State (2-18, 1-7). The Lady Norse will tip-off at 4:00 p.m. while the men's game will follow shortly after at 7:00 p.m.