With the regular season coming to an end, the Northern Kentucky University basketball teams are preparing for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament. Now that both teams are entering post-season play, there is no room for mistakes.
“If we lose we are done, and if we win, we keep on playing,” said women’s Head Coach Nancy Winstel. “It’s as simple as that.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will play their first-round game Saturday.
The women finished the regular season with a record of 17-9 overall and an 11-7 record within the GLVC, earning the seventh seed in the tournament.
To begin the tournament, the Norse will travel to Owensboro, Ky. to take on the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers, who finished the season with a 17-8 record and also had an 11-7 record within the GLVC. Wesleyan earned home court advantage over the Norse because they swept the season series.
NKU leads the all time series 52-7, but Wesleyan took both games in the regular season. The first meeting was on Jan. 22, when the two teams met in Owensboro.
The game went back and forth, as Wesleyan clung to a 62-61 lead with under one minute left, when the Panthers drained a three-pointer that gave the Panthers a 65-61 advantage, and the Panthers held on to win the game 67-63.
In the rematch, the Panthers traveled to the Bank of Kentucky Center to take on an NKU team who was undefeated at home. The Norse led 52-46 with 4:48 left in the game when the Panthers went on a 7-0 run to win the game 53-52 and sweep the Norse for the season.
“They are a very good team,” Winstel said. “The upperclassmen have set the tone. They are a little more experienced and we have to raise our level of play.”
The Norse will be led by junior guard Casse Mogan, who finished the year third in the GLVC in scoring average, averaging 17.7 points per game. The Panthers will be led by junior center Katie Behrens, who averaged 11.3 points per game and junior forward Kristen Rowe who pitched in 10.4 points per game.
The NKU-Kentucky Wesleyan winner advances to St. Louis, Mo., for the quarterfinals of the GLVC Tournament March 4. The GLVC semifinals are scheduled for March 5, with the championship game set for March 6.
The NKU men finished the year with a 19-7 overall mark and a 12-6 record within the GLVC, which was good enough for the fifth seed in the tournament and the opportunity to host the eighth-seeded Quincy Hawks.
NKU and Quincy only met once during the regular season, way back on Jan. 2 at Quincy. The game came down to the wire, and was tied 56-56 with under one minute remaining. The Hawks were able to make a jump shot with three seconds left to win the game.
This will be the first matchup at the Bank of Kentucky Center for NKU and Quincy, and men’s head basketball coach Dave Bezold is glad to be playing in a familiar gym.
“We don’t have to travel and we can sleep in our own bed,” said Bezold. “We’re happy … to play at home one last time.”
NKU will be led by senior guards Malcolm Eleby and Josh Tabb. Eleby leads the Norse with 12.4 points per game, and Tabb kicks in 11.0 points per game. The Hawks also have two players who average double figures in senior guard Josh Edmonds and junior guard Tyler Thompson. Edmonds leads Quincy with 13.1 points per game and Thompson adds 11.9 points per game.
The semi-finals and the finals will take place March 5 and 6 at Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo.
Stephen Wilder contributed to this story.
Story by Nick Jones and John Minor