HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY - It took two overtimes, but when the smoke finally cleared at the Bank of Kentucky Center Thursday, Northern Kentucky’s 10-game winning streak was kaput.
A three-pointer by Ellen Young got Southern Indiana rolling as the second OT session began and Southern Indiana never surrendered the lead in recording the 75-72 victory.
“You have to give Southern Indiana a lot of credit, they made the big plays down the stretch,” said Northern Kentucky head coach Nancy Winstel. “At the end of the day, we got to make some plays.”
The defeat was a double blow to Norse as they lost cost them the opportunity to share the East division crown and it could drop them to third in the division heading into the GLVC tournament.
Northern Kentucky falls to 19-7 overall and 13-4 in the GLVC, while Southern Indiana improves to 20-7 overall, 11-5. Awaiting the Norse is East division leader Indy fresh off two losses and a bye.
“We have to get back to work and get ready,” said Winstel.
While USI claimed the early advantage, it really couldn’t get too comfortable as the Norse continued to apply pressure. The Screaming Eagles even took a seven-point lead midway through the second overtime session, but Northern Kentucky felt it had enough firepower to stay viable. Those feelings were justified when Stephanie Hodges nailed a three-pointer with nine seconds remaining to pull NKU to within one.
However, it took the home team seven seconds to record the foul and Young nailed the two free throws to give the game its final margin. Jesse Carmack’s halfcourt heave didn’t come close sending the Norse to their first loss since January 13.
NKU scored 11 of the game’s first 13 points and built a bulge as big as 13 points in the first half before Southern Indiana scratched and clawed itself back into the game. And at the break, the Norse lead was only two.
“I honestly don’t know whether they started doing a better job defending or we stopped doing what we do,” said Winstel. “But I was a little disappointed we were only up by two points.”
The second half was a microcosm of the first as Northern quickly built a double-digit lead, and just like in the second half – USI came roaring back.
A 12-0 USI run spanning four minutes ending with 8:30 showing on the clock gave the Screaming Eagles their first lead of the game.
With the lead changing hands several times over the final eight minutes as Casse Mogan jumper with 27 seconds left sent the game into overtime with a fourth tie of the half.
A jumper with one second left in the first overtime by NKU’s Whitney Levering sent the game into a second OT period where USI finally earned the victory. In the two overtime sessions, the Screaming Eagles converted on 67 percent (6-of-9) of their shots and was 9-of-10 (90 percent) from the foul line.
Senior Brandi Rayburn led the Norse with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Mogan added 18 points. Senior Rachel Lantry added seven points, nine rebounds and a team-high eight assists.