A furious late-game comeback fell just short for NKU Tuesday, as Detroit hung on for a 74-68 victory over the Norse on senior night.
“We’re a little undermanned right now,” NKU head coach John Brannen said. “Lavone Holland being out certainly affects this team. Then we don’t shoot the ball well. We have to shoot the ball well. And we stayed in the game.”
NKU trailed by 10 with 7:28 remaining but rallied to pull within one possession in the final minutes.
Two Tyler White free throws with 2:54 left pulled the Norse within three, 63-60. After a Paris Bass bucket for Detroit, White buried a three with 1:55 left. NKU trailed 65-63.
Detroit pushed the lead back to six, 69-63, with 41.1 seconds remaining. White drove to the basket and was fouled.
White made the first free throw with 31.1 left. He missed the second, but Drew McDonald grabbed the rebound and scored. NKU trailed 69-66.
Northern Kentucky got no closer. Detroit put the game away at the free-throw line.
Despite the physical nature of the game on both ends, Detroit shot 16 more free throws than NKU, making 11.
“Our guys play really hard,” Brannen said. “All I ask is that we get the respect we deserve for playing really hard. I’m a little disappointed in the foul differential we’ve experienced both on the road and at home.”
Todd Johnson led NKU with 14 points. Drew McDonald and Tyler White each had 13 points.
Bass led Detroit with 24. Jaleel Hogan added 15. Detroit entered the game ninth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 84.1 points per game.
“I’m proud that we defended such a potent offensive team,” Brannen said. “We were in position to win. We missed a lot of easy ones.”
Before the game, NKU honored the six seniors in the men’s basketball program. They included Johnson, White, Jalen Billups, Jake Giesler, Jared Bryant-Godfrey and Jack Flournoy.
“Even though we didn’t get the win, it was great to come out one last time and play in front of our fans and family and just give a great effort,” White said. “It’a great feeling to be able to do that.”
Johnson, seated next to fellow seniors White and Billups, echoed their sentiments.
“It was a great feeling,” Johnson said. “NKU has been great to all three of us.”
Billups, who overcame a serious heart condition to star for the Norse, shared his feelings on his final home game.
“It was great playing here one last time,” Billups said. “We would have loved to get the win. I’m just happy and blessed to be a part of this.”
Brannen credited all of the seniors for their hard work and perseverance throughout their careers.
“I want to thank our seniors,” Brannen said. “They need to be given a tremendous amount of recognition for staying the course through nothing but change their entire career.
“They came to Northern Kentucky University without ever having the opportunity to play in a postseason. They’ve gone through the change of leagues. They’ve gone through the change of coaching staffs. They’ve experienced a lot of change and remained committed to this university.”
Brannen said what the seniors have experienced isn’t a normal college basketball experience.They’ve experienced a lot of change and remained committed to this university.
“They’ve experienced a lot of change and remained committed to this university,” Brannen said. “I’ve been at every level. That is not the norm in college athletics. They need to be commended for that. They’ve certainly gained my respect.
“Disappointed we weren’t able to get them the victory they certainly deserved.”
Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016
@ BB&T Arena, Highland Heights, Kentucky
Detroit 74, Northern Kentucky 68
D — 38 – 36 — 74N — 32 – 36 — 68
(74) DETROIT (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Jenkins 2-0-1-5, Wilson 3-1-2-9, Brundidge 0-0-5-5, Hogan 4-0-7-15, Bass 9-1-5-24, Williams 0-0-2-2, Foster-Smith 4-1-1-10, McFolley 1-0-1-3, Blackshear 0-0-1-1. TOTALS 23-3-25-74.
(68) NORTHERN KENTUCKY (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Garnett 1-0-0-2, White 2-1-8-13, Billups 2-0-4-8, Johnson 5-3-1-14, Murray 4-3-0-11, Cole 1-1-0-3, Holland II 0-0-1-1, McDonald 6-1-0-13, Danos 1-1-0-3. TOTALS 22-10-14-68.
FIELD GOALS: D 23/51 (Bass 9/17, Hogan 4/8, Foster-Smith 4/4); N 22/59 (McDonald 6/10, Johnson 5/8, Murray 4/13)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: D 3/15; N 10/26 (Johnson 3/6, Murray 3/12)
FREE THROWS: D 25/35 (Hogan 7/10, Brundidge 5/6, Bass 5/8); N 14/19 (White 8/10, Billups 4/5)
REBOUNDS: D 42 (Bass 12, Brundidge 11, Jenkins 8); N 32 (McDonald 11, Billups 5, Murray 5)
ASSISTS: D 12 (McFolley 5); N 13 (Danos 3, Garnett 3)
STEALS: D 6; N 3
BLOCKED SHOTS: D 2; N 3 (Billups 2)
TURNOVERS: D 15; N 12