Norse are National Champions

For the second time in school history, the Northern Kentucky University Women’s Basketball team are the National Champions in Division II, knocking off South Dakota 63-58, March 29 in Kearney, Neb.

The game was a nationally televised game on ESPN 2, seeing the Norse come-from-behind to pull off the upset and being crowned national champs, snapping South Dakota’s 31-game winning streak, according to NKU Sports Information Web site.

Senior Angela Healy and junior forward Cassie Brannen led NKU on the comeback trail in the second half of the game. Healy scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Brannen had 15 of her 18 points in the second half. Healy was also named the NCAA Division II Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

South Dakota (33-2) and the Norse (28-8) played very evenly as the Coyotes had the lead 26-23, going into the half. The Norse struggled into the beginning stages of the second half, falling behind the Coyotes 38-26 with 14:58 remaining in the game.

NKU began pulling the lead closer, but with 5:52 remaining, the Norse were still down by nine points, and the advantage looked to be going to South Dakota.

That was when Brannen stepped up and took the game into her own hands scoring nine points in the 14-3 run by the Norse to take a 54-52 lead with 2:08 remaining.

The key to the run was NKU getting to the free-throw line in the second half, going 19-of-23 from the charity stripe. The Norse also out-rebounded the Coyotes by a 43-36 advantage.

For the seniors Healy and Nicole Chiodi, it was the exclamation point to finish their careers at NKU.

Healy finishes her career with 1,262 points, which is 15th on the all-time list in NKU history, according to NKU Sports Information.

Chiodi set a new record for minutes played in a season, with 1,286.

The championship marked the 10th win out of the last 11 games for the Norse. The only loss came in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship game against Drury 71-67 March 9. The Norse defeated Drury in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, March 19 84-65 to advance to the Sweet 16.