The Northern Kentucky men's basketball team played in its first home game this season, but it was unable to hang on late dropping a 60-54 contest to USC Upstate on Saturday.
Eshaunte Jones led the way for the Norse (3-8, 1-2 Atlantic Sun) with 18 points thanks to five 3-pointers. Tyler White was the only other player for NKU to finish in double figures as he had 11 points.
Fred Miller had 11 points for USC Upstate (7-7, 1-0) while Ricardo Glenn added ten points and ten rebounds thanks to a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line.
The Norse jumped out to an early 8-2 lead after White and Ernest Watson made back-to-back threes to open the game and then Chad Jackson added a layup. NKU held onto the lead until the 11:14 mark when a Jodd Maxey dunk put the Spartans up by one.
It was all Spartans the rest of the half as they expanded their lead to 12 at one point, but the Norse closed the gap to 33-24 at halftime.
USC Upstate held onto the lead when Jones began a rally with two 3-pointers to cut the Spartans lead to 43-38. Jackson made the second of two free throw attempts and then a layup and a 3-pointer by Jones cut the lead to 45-44.
After a layup by Torrey Craig, Anthony Monaco knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 47 and then a 3-pointer by Jones gave NKU a 50-47 lead. Miller tied the game at 52 for the Spartans with a 3-pointer and then gave them the lead on a layup. Then the Norse went cold.
Watson would contribute the only two points the Norse got for the remainder of the second half as NKU went 1-of-6 in the final four minutes of the game. The Spartans sealed the game with four free throws to make it a 60-54 final.
The Norse will remain at home for another conference showdown on Monday, Jan. 7 at 7:00 p.m. when they host East Tennessee State (2-12, 0-1).