Cleveland State guards too much for Norse to handle

For the second game in a row, Northern Kentucky’s women’s basketball team had a chance to send one of the top teams in the Horizon League to overtime. Unfortunately, their comeback attempt fell short.

NKU fell to Cleveland State 70-65 in BB&T Arena Monday night. Cleveland State improves to 12-6 and 4-3 in conference play while the Norse fall to 4-13 and 2-4 in conference play.

“We have to understand our bread and butter is our defense,” said Ashley Early, NKU’s assistant coach “The offense was the plus at times but we have to remember what our core is.”

In the fourth quarter, the Norse were at one point 1-8 from the field. Meanwhile, the Vikings extended their lead to as much as 12 with 6:17 remaining in the game.

Threes by Taryn Taugher and Molly Glick, as well as an offensive rebound that led to a bucket and a foul for Kailey Coffey, put the Norse back within three points.

After a missed three-pointer by Viking forward Ashanti Abshaw, the Norse had a chance to tie the game with 18 seconds left. After almost turning the ball over, Mikayla Terry drove to the basket, but her layup hit the bottom of the rim. Two Vikings’ free throws would seal the victory.

“We were looking for a three there,” Early said.

Abshaw and Khayla Livingston carried the Vikings, scoring 23 points and 25 points respectively. Livingston was 7-14 from three and dished out six assists. The Vikings shot 47.5 percent on the night and 87.5 percent from the free throw line.

The Norse shot 35 percent for the game and 36.4 percent from three. Glick and Grace White both scored 18 points for the Norse.

Coffey scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds.

“She has been able to be that consistent piece for us,” Early said.

If there is one thing the Norse can hang their hat on, it’s rebounding. NKU grabbed 44 rebounds while the Vikings could only track down 28. The Norse chased down 24 offensive rebounds, which led to 19 second chance points.

The first half was a back and forth affair, as the lead changed hands 14 teams and the score was tied six times. Both teams got off to hot starts, scoring 39 combined points in the first quarter. NKU led 20-19 after the first quarter.

Scoring slowed considerably in the second quarter,which saw the Vikings outscore the Norse 13-9.. Khayla Livingston hit a three in the closing seconds of the first half to send the Vikings to the locker room with a 32-29 lead.

Livingston ended the half with 14 points while Abshaw scored 10 points. Glick led the Norse with nine points in the half while Grace White scored eight points.

In the third quarter, the Vikings began to pull away, shooting 66 percent in the quarter. The Norse gave up three fast break buckets to the end the quarter, the final basket being a Livingston three. The Vikings ended the night with 13 fast break points.

NKU will continue their home stand on Friday when they will face IUPUI at 7 p.m.. The game will be available on ESPN3.