Norse win big over Wisconsin-Parkside


HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – At halftime of the Jan. 22 game with Wisconsin-Parkside, Northern Kentucky University was shooting a sizzling 78.6 percent from the field. The Norse began by making their first nine shots from the floor en route to building a 19-4 lead and held a 56-31 advantage at the break.

When the final buzzer sounded, NKU owned a 101-86 win over Wisconsin-Parkside. The Norse finished the game at 64.9 percent shooting from the field and improved to 9-8 overall, 5-6 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

How does a head coach explain that type of shooting?

“It’s weird when it happens, and you just kind of have to enjoy it,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said of his team’s shooting. “We were sharing the ball. We were moving the ball well, and it caused us to get good shots. You normally don’t (shoot that well), but when the first couple fell, the kids were relaxed and just played well.”

NKU senior Pat Cary led the offensive attack with 22 points on 9-for-10 shooting from the field. The 6-foot-9 senior center scored 10 of NKU’s first 12 points, and the Norse controlled the entire game. Cary also grabbed six rebounds for NKU, which won the battle of the boards by a 37-29 margin.

“We came in here motivated,” Cary said. “In the first half, I had the most fun I’ve had playing basketball in a while. I think I can speak for the rest of the team when I say that. We all had fun playing, and we jumped on them and got a good lead.”

Mike Kelsey added 17 points for NKU and upped his career scoring total to 1,362. Kelsey drained a trio of three-point shots and also added two assists.

As a team, NKU finished 12-for-22 from three-point range. The Norse are now 10-0 all-time in Regents Hall against Wisconsin-Parkside (7-12 overall, 4-8 GLVC).

Steve Purdon scored 14 points and made four three-point shots for NKU, which started five seniors on Saturday. The experienced lineup paid huge dividends for the Norse.

“The five seniors who started kept us focused for 40 minutes, and they led the team,” Bezold said. “They didn’t run the team or just show up, they led the team and that was very important.”

Senior point guard Jordan Stowers, who leads the GLVC in assist-to-turnover ratio, finished with seven points, six assists and six rebounds. He combined with fellow senior Sean Rowland for 12 assists, 11 points and just three turnovers.

“Before the game, coach called Sean and me in and told us what the lineup and game plan would be,” Stowers said. “He said, ‘Look, you two are going to have to score.’ We know that teams are going to double off us with Kelsey and Purdon outside, so we just drove to the basket. If they are going to give us wide open looks, it’s up to us to knock them down.”

The NKU bench contributed 37 points, led by Derek Smith with 13. Courtney Fergerson added nine points, while teammate Harrison Morton finished with eight points.

Kevin Boutelle led Wisconsin-Parkside with 24 points and seven rebounds. Boutelle was held to just four points in the first half, when NKU built a 25-point lead.

“It’s not only the best half that we’ve played, but probably the most exciting for the fans and for the team ourselves,” Stowers said. “It’s great when you are out there having fun, especially when you are winning by 25. Even if we played the same way and we’re up 10 or 11 points at the half, it’s still just as much fun to go out there and play.”

NKU will hit the road this week for a trip to Southern Illinois at Edwardsville (8:30 p.m. Jan. 27) and Quincy (4 p.m. Jan. 29).

The Cougars of Southern Illinois at Edawardsville currently lead the Great Lakes Valley Conference with an overall record of 16-3 and a conference record of 9-1. In the first meeting of these two teams back on Dec. 11, the Cougars defeated the Norse 65-59 in Regents Hall.

*Article by Sports Information