The Northern Kentucky University Men’s Basketball Team ran into the locker rooms at halftime Nov. 7 and left a crowd of more than 7,000 people in bewilderment. Fans of Xavier University, who had such high hopes for this season headed for the exits in frustration, while others chose to stay and look for any signs of hope from their Musketeers. The Norse had the Cintas Center in shock with a 25-22 lead over Xavier at half-time.
Some people suspected the Norse would come out with a bit of a chip on its shoulders after falling to the University of Cincinnati the previous week. Whether it was added motivation or a difference of on-court chemistry, the Norse fired on all cylinders early in the night. The Norse was led by freshman David Jefferson’s 10 first-half points, which was a result of a 5-6 shooting performance from the field. Senior Steven Wright also contributed six first-half points, five rebounds and four assists. More important was the team effort the Norse demonstrated on defense, holding a Xavier offense that includes high profile scorers such as junior Stanley Burrell and senior Justin Doellman, to just 22 first-half points.
In the second-half, the Musketeers were able to put on a defensive clinic of its own, holding the Norse to just 19 second-half points. Offensively, Burrell took matters into his own hands and proved to be too much for the Norse as he scored 16 total points in the second half, including 3-4 shooting from 3-point range. Senior Justin Cage also added eight points and six rebounds in the second-half.
The Norse was still within single digits of catching up to the Muskies with as little as 2:28 left in the game. However, turnovers proved to be too costly for NKU as Xavier scored 27 points because of them and ultimately won 58-44.
The Norse was paced by Jefferson’s 14 points, along with senior James Cripe and Wright who each contributed 10 points. The Muskies were led by the 17 points of Burrell and 10 points on 3-4 shooting from the field by bench player freshman Adrion Graves. The Norse will next square off against Ferris State University in the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic Nov. 17 at NKU.