Ten in a row

The Northern Kentucky Women’s basketball team secured their tenth straight win after defeating Kentucky Wesleyan 57-54 on Feb. 13.

Sophomore guard Casse Mogan led the way with 15 points and eight rebounds. Senior forward Rachel Lantry scored 14 points and dished out seven assists. Sophomore forward Whitney Levering added 10 points to round out the trio of double-digit scorers. Brandi Rayburn was one point and one rebound shy of a double-double posting nine points and grabbing nine rebounds.

Because of their youth, the Norse weren’t given the highest of expectations at the beginning of the season. But with this 10 game win streak, the Norse are proving that they are a force to be reckoned with.

“Our team didn’t look into the press and the polls or that kind of thing,” Mogan said. “Nobody wanted us to do well this year and nobody really had any expectations, so we just decided to play. There wasn’t a big target on our backs and we had nothing to worry about. Our team just plays our game and we know if we play as hard as we can, good things will be the outcome.”

Senior Rachel Lantry wasn’t so surprised by this Norse run. Lantry knew the team could reach this level of play all along, and is very hap- py with how far they’ve come.

“It really makes me feel proud — I always knew we could do it,” Lantry said. “We just needed to come together as a team and just because we are a young team doesn’t mean we can’t compete with these other teams. We just need to keep bringing every- thing we have and leave everything on the floor.”

NKU (19-6, 13-3 Great Lakes Valley Conference) got off to a slow start against Kentucky Wesleyan (12-13, 5-11 GLVC), shooting only 28 percent from the field in the first half. NKU’s shooting percentage increased to 52 percent in the second half and what they lacked in missing their five attempted three-pointers for the game, they made up for with free throws. The Norse shot an impressive 15-18 from behind the line for the game, compared to Kentucky Wesleyan’s not-so-impressive 8-16 from the charity stripe.

NKU also won the rebounding battle, pulling down eight more rebounds than Kentucky Wesleyan, including 11 offensive boards.

To have won their tenth straight game, the Norse first needed to win their ninth straight game, which they did with a 65-52 win against archrival Bellarmine (14-10, 7-8 GLVC) on Feb. 11. This game seemed to be a better-looking win for the Norse.

Senior forward Brandi Rayburn led the team with 14 points and seven rebounds. Rachel Lantry and Casse Mogan added 12 points each. It was an all-around efficient game for NKU, shooting 42 percent from the field, 39 percent from behind the arc and 75 percent from the free throw line. Their defensive pressure helped force 13 Bellarmine turnovers and limited their team shooting to just 33 percent for the game.

Perhaps the most notable statistic for the Norse was their seven turnovers – eight less than their season average of 15 per game.

“I think we played very aggressively and we came ready to play from beginning to end,” Lantry said. “We did well playing as a team and we have really been stepping our game up. Bellarmine and Kentucky Wesleyan aren’t teams to be taken lightly and they’re always two very competitive teams so we really needed to bring everything we have.”

Both of these wins put the Norse right behind the University of Indianapolis for second place in their division. NKU is tied with Drury for second place within the conference standings of the GLVC and is in fourth place in the GLVC for their overall record. A week and a half ago, Coach Nancy Winstel said she was disappointed in her team’s effort after the Missouri S&T game on Feb. 6

Lantry says Winstel told the team that they needed to bring the same tough, consistent effort night in and night out.

“Sometimes it’s difficult, especially this late in the season, to bring the same kind of intensity to every game,” Lantry said. “But that’s what we needed to do and we needed her (Coach Winstel) to be on us and keep pushing us because at this time in the season it’s a battle and everyone is trying to make it into the tournament. The strongest and more determined teams will succeed and we want to be one of those teams.”

The Norse will look to continue their winning streak when Southern Indiana (18- 7, 9-5 GLVC) visits the Bank of Kentucky Center on Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m.

The Norse will close out their regular season at home against the top team in the GLVC, Indianapolis (24-1, 15-1), on Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. Indianapolis narrowly escaped the Norse when they last met on Dec. 3.

“One of our goals was to get into the GLVC tournament and we are very excited that we met that goal,” Mogan said. “This week is a big week with two teams that beat us earlier in the year. We just need to go out and stick to our assignments and good things will happen.”

Story by Drew Laskey