OXFORD, Ohio — It might have been “Class at the Court” day Friday afternoon in Oxford, but it was Northern Kentucky handing out the lessons.
Christine Roush led all scorers with 24 points as NKU opened its season with a 71-57 victory over the Redhawks in both teams’ season openers.
Northern Kentucky had to battle not only the host Redhawks but also more than 1,000 screaming elementary school students.
“Not only are you pleased with the result to be able to go on the road to open your season and come out on top, but then to play in front of 1,500 screaming kids,” NKU Head Coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “And then to figure out, are we able going to be able to communicate?
“I thought our players came out and played with a lot of poise and composure and figured it out.”
Part of the reason the Norse handled it so well is because Plitzuweit knew it was coming.
“We tried to pump music in and screaming voices,” Plitzuweit said with a laugh. “Ours wasn’t quite as high pitched as the kids were. So we’ll go back and adjust that if we have to play at an elementary school game in the future.”
Roush also said the simulated noise in practice helped during the game.
“We have been preparing for it because our coach found out we were going to have a bunch of screaming kids at the game,” Roush said. “We actually had loud screaming kid audio for our practice, which actually did help out a lot.”
NKU trailed 3-2 for 49 seconds. It would be the only time the Norse trailed in the game. Roush had 13 of NKU’s 23 first quarter points as the Norse led 23-19 after one.
NKU started to pull away in the second quarter. The Norse scored the first 10 points of the quarter, getting six from Kasey Uetrecht and two each from Rebecca Lyttle and Molly Franson. NKU led 33-19 at that point and 38-27 at the half.
“Coming into the game, we wanted to be aggressive,” Roush said. “Keep taking it at them. I thought we did that well in the beginning.”
Miami tried to rally to start the third. A layup by Baleigh Reid and a three by Leah Purvis cut the Norse lead to six, 38-32.
“When the second half started, they went on a 5-0 run,” Plitzuweit said. “I’m wondering as a coach if we should call a timeout to stop it. But then you’re going to have 1,500 screaming fans. Or, can our players figure out how to battle through this and do it on their own.”
Northern Kentucky went on another run of its own to put the game away. A 17-4 run took a six-point advantage and pushed it to 55-36 with 2:01 left in the third.
Roush led the Norse with 24 points.
“I thought Christine played very hard and played very smart,” Plitzuweit said. “Not only is she scoring the basketball, but more importantly for us, she did a very good job defensively. That’s great to see.”
For Roush, starting her senior year with a victory was incredibly important.
“I wasn’t going to hold back at all,” Roush said. “First game of the season, last year, I was going to take it at them because I wanted this one really bad.”
Also for the Norse, Uetrecht added 16 points and 7 rebounds. Lyttle had 14 points and 5 rebounds.
Reid led Miami with 17 points. Purvis added 15.
There is little time for the Norse to celebrate. They return to the BB&T Arena 1 p.m. Sunday to host Indiana State.
“We had some players who played some significant minutes,” Plitzuweit said. “A couple things are going to be important. One, the recovery for some of those kids, and two, other kids being ready to go. They’ll be ready to do that.”
@ Millett Hall, Miami University
Northern Kentucky 71, Miami 57
N – 23 – 15 – 19 – 14 –71M – 19 – 8 – 13 – 17 — 57
(71) NORTHERN KENTUCKY (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Lyttle 7-0-0-14, Uetrecht 5-3-3-16, Glick 2-1-2-7, Ch. Roush 6-3-9-24, Sanders 0-0-2-2, Gayheart 1-0-2-4, Franson 1-0-2-4. TOTALS 22-7-20-71.
(57) MIAMI (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Richter 2-0-4-8, Purvis 5-4-1-15, Reid 6-0-5-17, McCoy 2-1-0-5, Ford 1-0-1-3, Levering 1-1-0-3, Galloway 2-0-2-6. TOTALS 19-6-13-57.
FIELD GOALS: N 22/54 (Lyttle 7/11, Roush 6/8, Uetrecht 5/14); M 19/47 (Reid 6/13, Purvis 5/12)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: N 7/13 (Uetrecht 3/4, Roush 3/4); M 6/18 (Purvis 4/8)
FREE THROWS: N 20/24 (Roush 9/11, Uetrecht 3/4); M 13/21 (Reid 5/8, Richter 4/4)
REBOUNDS: N 31 (Uetrecht 7, Lyttle 5, Glick 5, Roush 4, Gayheart 4, Terry 3); M 36 (Richter 5, Levering 5, Reid 4)
ASSISTS: N 15 (Gayheart 6, Lyttle 3, Terry 3); M 9
STEALS: N 11 (Roush 4, Uetrecht 4); M 4
BLOCKED SHOTS: N 1 (Roush); M 6 (McCoy 3)
TURNOVERS: N 13; M 22