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NKU loses heartbreaker to Lipscomb

NKU+guard+Tyler+White+%283%29+led+the+Norse+with+17+points+in+its+season-opening+loss+to+West+Virginia.
NKU guard Tyler White (3) led the Norse with 17 points in its season-opening loss to West Virginia.

NKU guard Tyler White (3) led the Norse with 17 points in its season-opening loss to West Virginia.

Kody Kahle

Kody Kahle

NKU guard Tyler White (3) led the Norse with 17 points in its season-opening loss to West Virginia.

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In their first Division I postseason game, the NKU men’s basketball team dropped a close game to the Lipscomb Bisons 76-73 in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament, played at Regents Hall on Tuesday night in front of 1,157 fans.

“What an incredible game,” NKU Head Coach Dave Bezold said. “I’m so proud of our guys… I thought we battled all night long.”

Tyler White led all NKU scorers with 19 points, including a big three-point basket with six seconds left in the second half to tie the game at 68 and to take it into overtime. However, only seconds before the shot, missed three free throws, coming in a crucial part of the game.

“Every day, Coach stresses to me, ‘When you miss a shot, move onto the next play,’” White said. “So, if I miss a shot or miss a free throw, I just try to block it out and make the next shot.”

The Norse had five players with double-figure point totals: White (19), Jalen Billups (12), Tayler Persons (11), Todd Johnson (11), and Cole Murray (11).

NKU got the scoring started when White nailed a three-pointer on NKU’s first possession in the first half to take an early 3-0 lead, although the lead would change 13 times throughout the course of the night.

NKU guard Todd Johnson (23) goes up to shoot the layup during NKU's first A-Sun conference tournament game hosted at Regents Hall. NKU lost to Lipscomb in NKU's first A-Sun conference tournament 76-73 in Regents Hall on Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2015.

Kody Kahle
NKU guard Todd Johnson (23) goes up to shoot the layup during NKU’s first A-Sun conference tournament game hosted at Regents Hall. NKU lost to Lipscomb in NKU’s first A-Sun conference tournament 76-73 in Regents Hall on Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2015.

The Bisons were up by three with a little under eight minutes left in the first half when Cole Murray, perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the night, made a three-point basket to tie it up.

Despite being up by as much as eight with 3:43 left in the first half, Lipscomb continued to battle back and only trailed by one going into the half, with the score 36-37 in favor of the Norse.

Lipscomb opened the second half strong, going on a 4-0 run before once again going back-and-forth with the Norse.

The Norse kept it close with the Bisons until with 33.8 seconds and down by one, an NKU foul sent the Bisons’ Chad Lang to the free throw line for two shots, which he made.

After Bezold called a timeout to draw up a saving grace play to attempt to keep the Norse in the game, the Norse drove the ball down the court with the shot clock off.

With six seconds left in the game, the ball found itself in the hands of White, who shot it from beyond the arc, right in front of the NKU bench, and hits nothing but net to tie the game at 68.

The crowd of 1,157 erupted as the Norse’s hopes for their first postseason win was revived one last time.

Overtime did not go well for the Norse, who only scored five points in route to a season-ending loss to the team who came into the game with an identical win-loss record.

Lipscomb will go on to play the top-seeded North Florida on Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida.

Although the men’s basketball team’s season is over, Bezold is pleased to see the growth of his program and team throughout the year.

“In the beginning, we had so many parts and we weren’t sure how they were all going to fit,” Bezold said. “We had a lot of things and never really got settled… We played really well the last three or four weeks and I think part of it was we settled into a lineup and they found their roles and really understand each other.”

With only two seniors this year, the Norse will return a majority of their lineup next season, which will be integral for success, according to Bezold.

“It’s vital,” Bezold said. “That’s what sustains programs.”

Next up is the women’s basketball team, who will play host to USC-Upstate in its quarterfinal match-up in the Atlantic Sun tournament on Friday night at Regents Hall.

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NKU loses heartbreaker to Lipscomb