Winner leads NKU to 70-56 win

Northern Kentucky University’s Women’s Basketball Team added a crucial victory to its season, defeating the University of Southern Indiana, 70-56 Jan. 20 in Evansville.

The Norse (11-5 overall, 5-4 in Great Lakes Valley Conference) extended its winning streak to four games, including a weekend sweep over Kentucky Wesleyan University and USI.

The victory by NKU has put them back into contention for the GLVC title after struggling at the beginning of conference play. After falling out of the national rankings with losses to Wisconsin-Parkside University and Lewis University, the season was not looking good for the Norse.

Starting conference play 5-0, USI (11-6 overall, 5-4 GLVC) have now dropped three in a row, and were in a dire need for a win against NKU.

Senior forward Brittany Winner led the way for the Norse, with 17-points, six rebounds and five steals. The Norse built a 22-point lead against the Eagles, and its defense helped seal the win, despite a late comeback by USI.

“Everything starts around our defense with us. You build your intensity offensively from it, as well as your intensity for rebounding the ball,” said NKU Head Coach Nancy Winstel, according to NKU Athletics.

“We struggled with that concept early on this season, but we are really buying into it right now and doing a great job,” Winstel said.

“We were so aggressive in the first half, I thought the worst thing that could happen was we had to stop for halftime. Sometimes you leave your aggressiveness in the locker room. I told our players with this crowd and in this place, if they make a run, we could be in trouble. We did not let up, and this was a great road trip to beat a couple of very good teams.”

Sophomore center/forward Cassie Brannen also contributed 14-points and five rebounds for NKU. The Norse won the rebounding with a margin of 43-29.

“Cassie Brannen played great defense and helped everyone,” Winstel said.

The Norse had no problem getting a lead as it jumped out 22-9 with minutes left.

USI then closed the score to 34-19 at halftime. What kept NKU from blowing away the Screaming Eagles, was the fact that it turned the ball over 23 times during the course of the game.

Senior forward Sabrina Brandon led USI with 16-points and seven rebounds.

“We’re back in the hunt, and this feels a lot better than when we were 1-4 in the conference,” Winstel said. “Our defense is coming around, and we have a lot of people stepping up and making big plays.”

NKU returns home for two games this week, beginning with the University of Indianapolis, at 7:45 p.m. Jan. 25, and concludes Homecoming weekend against Saint Joseph’s College of Indiana at 7:45 p.m. Jan. 27.