Lady Norse drop first at home

A few pairs of free throws in the final minutes gave Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville women’s basketball team the slight lead over NKU Jan. 13 — one NKU would not overcome in their loss 56-53.

Ashley Bey of SIUE (3-15) sank two free throws with 36 seconds left to play to give the Cougars the lead. Bey then connected on two more with only seconds remaining to secure the victory. She finished the game with 12 points, five assists and six rebounds.

The lady Norse are now 11-6 overall with a Grand Valley Lakes Conference record of 5-3, tied with Quincy for fifth place. This was the first home loss for the lady Norse this season. Sophomore guard Casse Mogan led the lady Norse in scoring with 16 points and gathered five rebounds along the way.

Senior guard Rachel Lantry added 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. NKU shot out to an early 8-2 run to start the game and led well into the second half, but inconsistency prevented the Norse from maintaining that lead to the end, Coach Nancy Winstel said.

“I felt like we were very inconsistent,” Winstel said. “I think good teams rebound and play solid defense every day, all the time and we don’t do that on a consistent note. We play defense and re- bound like we shoot the ball — and that’s very inconsistently,” Winstel said.

Northern Kentucky University had its fair share of foul trouble in this game, too.

The lady Norse gave SIUE 18 free throw attempts and 6-foot junior center Kendra Caldwell received her fifth foul only 12 minutes into the second half, giving her an early exit from the game. The Black and Gold committed 15 turnovers in the game, one less than their average of 16 per game, which Winstel says kept them from staying in rhythm.

“Taking care of the ball has to be there every game and unfortunately it hasn’t been a consistent factor for us all year long,” Winstel said.

“You have to give SIUE a lot of credit — they only had two wins but they have played a very, very tough schedule and they weren’t intimidated by the situation by any means. They knew they had a chance to win the game toward the end and they went and took it from us.

“Generally, the team that makes the least mistakes wins the game and at the end of the game Edwardsville made plays and we didn’t,” Winstel said.

Although the 18 free throw attempts by SIUE isn’t a mind-boggling statistic, a number of those fouls coming in the final few minutes played a huge role in the outcome of the game. And although a 66.7 percent free throw percentage for SIUE also isn’t so startling, their ability to sink clutch foul shots is what ultimately sealed the win.

Being shorthanded from not having the post defense of Caldwell, the Norse seemed to have difficulty defending the paint against SIUE’s imposing frontline and guard penetration.

“I thought that we played hard, but other times we played like we were tired and we didn’t have our legs under us,” Mogan said.

“We had a tough time fighting against their bigger post players. At times we had to go with a smaller line up and that hurt us in the rebounding battle. They were a very good Division I team and I think this game made us realize that if we don’t come ready to play every game it would be difficult to win,” Mogan said.

The lady Norse will have a chance to rebound Jan. 23 game against Bellarmine, and Mogan thinks the team will be more than ready to make up for Wednesday’s loss.

“Because of our loss we need to take this and fuel the fire,” Mogan said. “We need to take our loss and turn it into something positive— and that loss showed us what we needed to work on to make our team better.

“Our team is very close to each other and we know what we need to do to get the job done,” Mogan said.

Story by Drew Laskey