Colin Johnson and Sierra Newton
The Norse defeated Ball State University Cardinals on their home court 59-57 Wednesday night. Three Norse scored in double digits. Senior forward Dantez Walton led the charge with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists. Sophomore guard Trevon Faulkner added 17 points and six rebounds, and senior guard Tyler Sharpe finished with 10 points and three steals.
The half started off with both teams trading buckets, until Sharpe hit the first three to separate the game by more than two points at 14-11. Neither team did well in handling the ball the first 12 minutes, with seven turnovers each. The Norse ended the half down one point, 22-21.
Ball State shot 0-of-8 from the 3-point line. Four Norse committed two fouls in the first half: redshirt junior forward Silas Adheke, sophomore guard Bryson Langdon, junior wing Adham Eleeda and Faulkner.
“I don’t know that we executed that great,” Head Coach Darrin Horn said in ESPN+ broadcast. “I just think that we found a way to make the plays when we needed to.”
The Cardinals started the second half by gaining a lead of five points, 26-21. Graduate wing Karl Harris broke their scoring streak with a rebound and subsequent putback. The Cardinals were able to stretch their lead out again to nine, the largest lead of the game. Shortly after, the Norse answered back, going on a 12-2 run courtesy of Faulkner and Walton. In a span of two minutes, Walton hit one 3-pointer, a jumper, three layups and successfully converted an and-one play.
Sharpe poked the ball away from Ball State and passed ahead to Faulkner for an open layup tying the score, 45-45. Walton posted up with a spin move under the basket to create space for a shot, putting the Norse up by two once again. The Norse battled to stay in the lead the remainder of the game. Eleeda stretched the lead to four points with two free throws, 59-55. Ball State tried to stage a comeback, but it wasn’t enough, and the Norse finished the game on top 59-57.
“You got Dantez Walton and Tyler Sharpe, who I thought were huge in the second half,” Horn said. “We tried to get [Walton] some touches in the block that I think helped get him going. But most importantly, those guys have been there. They’ve been through the wars, and they were able to help us get it done tonight. “
This is NKU’s first matchup against the Cardinals, and they’ve started the series 1-0 in favor of the Norse. The Black and Gold are 8-3 all-time versus teams from the Mid-American Conference.
The Norse are back home Saturday, Nov. 23 as they take on Texas Southern University. The game is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.