HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Kentucky — A mid-week matchup against a 2-8 NAIA team is usually nothing more than a tune-up game.
Brescia was determined to be much more than a tune-up.
Two days before traveling to West Virginia to take on the 11th-ranked Mountaineers, the NKU men’s basketball team was sluggish Wednesday in a 97-73 win over Brescia.
“I didn’t think it was our best effort,” NKU head coach John Brannen said. “I’m a little disappointed in how we came out, but I’m not surprised. We’ve been inconsistent in practice a little bit lately and I think it showed up.
“It’s a habit-forming game. When you’re not consistent in practice you’re not going to find that in the game.”
Brescia, which trailed by as many as 28 points early in the second half, cut the Norse lead to 11, 72-61, with 8:52 left.
“For us to be the team that we’re capable of becoming, we’ve got to get better,” Brannen said.
However, NKU (9-3) finally put the game out of reach with a 21-6 run. It came after Brannen reinserted his starting lineup back into the game.
“What I was proud of was in the second half when I inserted the starters back in the game … they really came in and in a business-like fashion pushed the lead back up,” Brannen said.
Drew McDonald led the Norse in scoring with 22 points. He also had eight rebounds. Carson Williams finished with a double-double, scoring 21 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Twelve different NKU players scored.
Dillon Geralds led Brescia with 20 points and six rebounds. Trey Howard added 17 points.
It was a tough night from the outside for the Norse, as they made just 6 of 31 from three-point range, including 1 of 14 in the second half.
Despite the easy win, it wasn’t what Brannen was looking for out of his young team.
“I think it has been slippage in practice,” Brannen said. “If you have slippage, then you’re an organization that shows up in a spot that you didn’t want to ever be. We’re not going to have that in our program. It’s not going to exist.
“We can’t accept in victory what we wouldn’t accept in defeat.”
NKU gets a huge step-up in competition 4 p.m. Friday when they play the 11th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia is fifth in the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
“The challenge is we’re playing a top 10 team on their floor that’s forcing teams at an NCAA-record turnover rate,” Brannen said. “They turned a team over that’s a perennial NCAA tournament team in Manhattan 40 times.”
Wednesday’s result doesn’t change the way Brannen feels about his Norse, winners of six straight.
“We’re a team that’s capable of competing with anyone in the country in my opinion,” Brannen said. “But we’ve got to do some things to prepare ourselves for that.”
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016
at BB&T Arena, Highland Heights, Kentucky
Northern Kentucky 97, Brescia 73
B — 30 – 43 — 73
N — 52 – 45 — 97
(73) BRESCIA (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Zach McDaniel 1-1-0-3, Dillon Geralds 7-0-6-20, Ed Carter 0-0-2-2, Trey Howard 7-3-0-17, Tavon Johnson 1-1-0-3, Brandon Stacker 1-1-0-3, Darion Morrow 6-0-0-12, Kayode Daboiku 5-0-3-13. TOTALS 28-6-11-73.
(97) NORTHERN KENTUCKY (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Jordan Garnett 1-0-0-2, Carson Williams 6-0-9-21, Drew McDonald 10-1-1-22, Cole Murray 4-3-1-12, Lavone Holland II 3-1-2-9, Brandon Maxwell 1-0-0-2, Blake Spellman 1-0-0-2, Jef Garrett 1-0-0-2, Mason Faulkner 1-0-3-5, Brennan Gillis 4-0-0-8, Matt Rosenwinkel 1-0-0-2, Dantez Walton 4-1-1-10. TOTALS 37-6-17-97.
FIELD GOALS: B 28/63 (Geralds 7/12, Howard 7/16, Morrow 6/7, Daboiku 5/11); N 37/76 (McDonald 10/15, Williams 6/10, Murray 4/13, Gillis 4/7, Walton 4/8)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: B 6/15 (Howard 3/7); N 6/31 (Murray 3/12)
FREE THROWS: B 11/17 (Geralds 6/7); N 17/24 (Williams 9/10)
REBOUNDS: B 31 (Geralds 6, Daboiku 6); N 49 (Williams 11, McDonald 8, Garnett 7, Garrett 5)
ASSISTS: B 12; N 23 (Garnett 5, Holland II 5)
STEALS: B 5; N 8
BLOCKED SHOTS: B 3; N 6
TURNOVERS: B 16; N 13