It was a game that had everything you could want. A large, excited Homecoming crowd. A loud, rowdy student section. A furious comeback at the end.
The only thing that was lacking was the one thing everyone came to see, a victory. The Bellarmine Knights (14-7, 8-5 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference) came in to Regents Hall and upset No. 22 Northern Kentucky (16-4, 10-3 in the GLVC) on Homecoming night.
A 15-point second half from Vincent Humphrey and a furious last minute comeback were not enough for the Norse to overcome the poor shooting in the first half.
The Norse shot a mere 32.1 percent from the field in the first half and needed a last second lay-in by Dennis Gagai to avoid going into the locker room down double-digits.
“Earlier in the game, we were not shooting that well,” Humphrey told Sports Information. “I think we shot only 32 percent, which should have been better. I think it was our defensive end, really. We let them get in the bonus early in the first half and they hit their free throws when we sent them there. We dug ourselves a hole early and never got out of it.”
The Norse fought their way back into the game early in the second half. A Vincent Humphrey three-pointer capped a 10-2 run to open the second half and cut the Knights lead to one at 39-38. That was as close as they would get.
Northern’s leading scorer, Harrison Morton, was plagued by foul trouble the entire game.
After picking up two fouls in the first half, Morton committed his third and fourth fouls less than one minute apart early in the second half.
He would foul out of the game with 5:55 still remaining in the game. Foul trouble was a problem for the entire team as Humphrey and Anthony Teague also fouled out.
The Norse were led in scoring by Vincent Humphrey, who had 18 points on 5-for-7 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Anthony Teague kept the Norse in the game in the first half with 14 of his 16 coming in the first, hitting 4-of-7 from three-point territory.
The story of the game, however, was the Knights Dzaflo Larkai, a senior forward from London, England. The Norse were unable to contain the 6-foot-8 Englishman. Larkai was a dominant force inside, going 9 for 14 for 26 points in just 20 minutes of action.
“All they had to do is throw it down inside and we fouled the heck out of (Larkai),” head coach Dave Bezold told NKU Sports Information. “We played very poor position defense in the first half, and that’s my fault. I didn’t have us ready to play the right kind of defense in the first half. I thought we’d be a little bit better that way.”
The Norse mounted one last rally in the games final minute. Mark Hawkins hit a three-pointer with six seconds remaining to cut the lead to 73-71.
The comeback would fall short as Bellarmine’s Jamie Jackson sank two free throws to provide the final margin at 75-71.
In the end, the Norse were simply unable to overcome a dismal shooting day. They shot just 39 percent from the field – well below their season average of 49 percent – and were out-rebounded 40-27.
The Norse will look to rebound from this performance as they take on the St. Joseph’s Pumas Feb. 14 at 7:45 in Regents Hall.