Women’s team heads to Wisconsin

The No. 4 ranked University of Indianapolis’ 44 free throw attempts helped carry them past Northern Kentucky University’s women’s basketball 80-69 on Feb. 20 in NKU’s fi nal home game of the season.

Sophomore guard Casse Mogan led the way for the Black and Gold with 21 points. Senior guard Rachel Lantry scored 15 points and senior forward Brandi Rayburn added 13 points and eight rebounds on NKU’s senior night.

It was a competitive contest in the opening minutes of the game as neither team took much of a lead, but a late first half run gave Indy (25-2, 16-2 Great Lakes Valley Conference) an 11-point cushion heading into halftime. As the Norse struggled to defend the paint, they committed a number of fouls throughout the game, giving Indy plenty of easy opportunities to extend their lead at the line.

“I was a little disappointed in the way that they were able to just dominate us inside,” Winstel said.

“I knew they were awfully good inside, but they just dominated us inside, and it was tough for us. I was proud of our kids, the way we battled — I thought our guards in particular battled awfully hard. As much as you hate to say it, you have to give Indy all the credit in the world. When you get beat like that you just have to shake their hand, but we didn’t quit,” Winstel said.

To put in perspective how much significance each free throw held, Indy sank 38 of their 44 attempts — NKU made 15 of their 21 attempts. That’s a difference of 23 points from just the foul line. That not only sheds light to how strong Indy was from the line, but also how hard NKU played to make up for those lost points elsewhere.

NKU will lose two seniors, Rachel Lantry and Brandi Rayburn, at the end of the season. At the conclusion of the game, Coach Nancy Winstel took to center court and publicly addressed the crowd of 1,321 about how grateful she was for having coached such fine young ladies.

“Probably the two toughest things a coach does during their career is deal with injuries and says goodbye to their seniors,” Winstel said. “But I don’t ever say goodbye to my seniors. I always tell them, ‘you know where I am, my phone number hasn’t changed in like, 100 years, and once a lady Norse, always a lady Norse.’”

Senior forward Brandi Rayburn averaged 14 points per game and grabbed six rebounds per game for the Norse.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you only knew what this young lady (Rayburn) has gone through to play this year…every day she spends more time in the training room than she does on the basketball court,” Winstel said. “She loves the game and she wants to play and she gives it her all. And you have to respect that.”

The other senior is Rachel Lantry. In her senior campaign, Lantry averaged 10 points and four rebounds per game, she led the team with 26 blocks on the season and was second in total steals on the year with 28.

“I have gotten to play with some of the greatest girls that will be life-long friends of mine,” Lantry said. “My team is my family and I will continue to cheer for them even when I’m gone. I have really enjoyed my time here and it is going to be sad leaving but I know these girls, coaches and staff will be a part of my life forever. I appreciate everyone in the athletic department for getting me to where I am today, I am a better person because of all them,” Lantry said.

This loss was the second in the row for the Norse, as they dropped a close one to Southern Indiana University in double overtime 75-72 on Feb. 18, snapping their previous 10-game win streak. NKU had three players score in double figures against SIU, led by the double-double of senior forward Brandi Rayburn who scored 20 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.

Rayburn was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Casse Mogan who scored 18 points and junior guard Jessie Carmack who added 10. USI (21-7, 12-5 GLVC) netted eight of their 20 three-pointers for the game, including a deep three at the beginning of the second overtime that put USI up in front for good. USI also held a large advantage from the free throw line, attempting 13 more foul shots than NKU and knocking down seven more than the Black and Gold.

NKU jumped off to quick starts in both halves, but USI never let the game too far out of reach as they climbed back into the game with runs of their own. USI took its first lead of the game eleven minutes into the second half with a 13-2 run, putting the Norse on their heels. The teams traded baskets until Rayburn was able to put the Norse up 51-47 making two free throws. USI then went on a 6-0 run to give them a 53-51 lead within the final minute, but Mogan hit a jumper for the Norse that sent the game into its first overtime.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first overtime, but a USI layup with 35.7 sec- onds gave them a 59-57 advantage. The Norse struggled to find an open shot on their final possession until sophomore center Whitney Levering hit a jump shot with 1.7 seconds left, sending the game into its second overtime. At the beginning of the second overtime, USI hit a quick three to begin the half, which ended up putting the Screaming Eagles ahead for good.

This was the first loss for the Norse since Jan. 13. The University of Indianapolis won win the GLVC Eastern Division so NKU will enter the conference tournament as the second seed from the East.

The tournament begins Feb. 26 and would last until March 7 if the Norse advance to the championship game. Rachel Lantry is as confident as ever in her team’s chances.

“Anything is possible,” Lantry said. “I think it is all up for grabs and I still think we can go all the way — it doesn’t matter how young we are.”

NKU will play Kentucky Wesleyan at 1 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Wisconsin-Parkside. The winner of that game will play Wisconsin-Parkside on Feb. 28.

Story by Drew Laskey and Nick Jones