Northern Kentucky University Men’s Basketball Team pulled a major upset in Great Lakes Valley Conference play Dec. 2 at Regents Hall. The Norse (4-2 overall, 1-2 GLVC) defeated No. 21 ranked Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 81-76 on a strong effort by senior Steven Wright’s 29-point performance.
SIUE started the game off well by -pulling out 12-3 in the first minutes of the game, which didn’t look good for the Norse. Then, NKU went on a 15-4 run taking their first lead of the game at 18-16.
With the help of Wright and Vincent Humphrey, the Norse took a 45-34 lead into the locker rooms. Wright had 13 of his 29 points in the first half, and the way the team played, it looked like they had a good chance to secure the win.
SIUE rallied in the second half and took a 57-56 lead with a jump shot by senior guard Ty Johnson with 9:10 to play. Then, Humphrey and Wright put their game back on the court with seven unanswered points to take a 63-59 lead, which NKU never relinquished.
The Norse had a strong performance on all sides of the ball, scoring an amazing 45-7 advantage off the bench. That was key in the victory over last year’s Regional Champions, SIUE.
NKU shot more than 50 percent in the first half and more than 60 percent behind the 3-point line. The struggles came in the second half as the Norse could only manage 40 percent shooting, and that lead to the resurgence of SIUE in the half.
Something else that was going for the Norse was that it started 0-2 in conference play. Going 0-3 to start conference play would be devastating to the team, which was picked to win the East Division of the GLVC. This win moves it a little closer toward that goal, but for now, the team needs to concentrate on its next opponent and take it team by team.
NKU Head Coach Dave Bezold had to be pleased with his team in the upset victory. “It was nice to see our guys respond, and I knew they would,” he said, according to NKU Athletics. “In the locker room before the game, I told them I know we believe we should beat everybody, and we believe we are a good team, but if we actually beat SIUE, it is going to get us over the hump.”
Wright was the player that got the team “over the hump” in this game with his 29 points and 13 of them coming from the charity stripe, in which he went 13 of 15. Wright also had two key blocks and grabbed nine rebounds in 37 minutes of play.
“He did a great job tonight. He did everything,” teammate Humphrey said of Wright. “He did a lot of the ball handling, he rebounded, and he shot well. He’s just one of those guys who leads us by example as a senior, and as he went, we went. Steve went well, and we went well.”
Johnson led SIUE (3-3 overall, 1-1 GLVC) with 21 points and teammate sophomore forward Nick Arth contributed 16 points. NKU won the rebound battle by a margin of 31-21.
The Norse will take on nationally-ranked University of Findlay Dec. 19 at Findlay at 7:30 p.m.