NKU WBB falls to Green Bay for first conference loss of the season

Norse are now 6-1 in Horizon League action

February 5, 2021

The Northern Kentucky women’s basketball team played its first home game in 53 days on Friday afternoon, getting onto the BB&T Arena court for the first time during the 2021 calendar year. Their first home victory of 2021 will have to wait at least one more day though, as the Green Bay Phoenix defeated the Norse 63-56 on Friday.

With the loss, the Norse fell to 6-6 overall, and 6-1 in Horizon League play, while the Phoenix moved to 10-6 overall and 9-4 in conference play. 

Having lost point guard Ally Niece for the rest of the season, the Norse continued to be reliant on their backcourt, particularly redshirt junior Lindsey Duvall, and sophomores Ivy Turner and Carissa Garcia. Duvall led the Norse with 18 points, and tied for the team-lead in rebounds with 11, while Turner added 12 points and four assists. Garcia recorded nine points on a trio of three-pointers, all in the first half.

“You can tell we have short numbers and I think that resilience is going to carry us into later in the season,” Duvall said, referencing the thin Norse rotation at the moment due to multiple injuries on the roster.

For Green Bay, redshirt senior guard Caitlyn Hibner led the team with 14 points and four assists, while junior guard Sydney Levy had 12 points and six rebounds. 

The Norse got off to a slow start shooting the ball, cashing in on just one of their nine first quarter three-point attempts, and the offense continued to sputter from that point on.

NKU fired an extraordinary amount of threes on Friday afternoon, shooting 33 threes in the contest, six more than their previous high this season of 27 against Purdue Fort Wayne on Dec. 19. The Norse were able to convert on 10 of those, but inefficiency from other areas of the court proved to be too costly for the team to pull out a victory.

Trailing by eight at halftime, NKU came out of the locker room slow to begin the second half, allowing seven quick Green Bay points to give the Phoenix a 42-29 advantage. 

The Norse would not let that deficit grow any larger though, as the team began to climb their way back into the game, led by Duvall and senior forward Grayson Rose, who scored all nine of her points in the second half.

Following an NKU timeout, the Norse knocked down four consecutive three-pointers, with Duvall’s three at the 1:55 mark of the third quarter trimming the deficit down to just three points at 44-41.

“I can remember in the timeout in the third quarter, we got down 13, and I told them ‘alright, we can sink or we can swim’, so I was proud of how they fought back,” Head Coach Camryn Whitaker said.

After five straight Green Bay points, the Norse continued to hang around in the fourth quarter, keeping the Phoenix within striking distance, but failed to consistently make shots in the final minutes to seize the lead. NKU shot 23.1 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, missing five free throws down the stretch.

Whitaker said she was disappointed in the outcome, but at the end of the day was extremely proud of the way that the team fought back into the game and made it competitive. The Norse have only been able to resume basketball activities for a little over a week, following the extended pause that the team endured because of COVID-19 issues within the program.

“They’re winners,” Whitaker said about the players that the Norse have this season. “They come from winning high school programs and they know how to win, but they’re just good kids that continue to battle through all kinds of adversity that we have had to go through with COVID.”

The Norse will look to avoid the sweep on Saturday, as the two teams will face off for the second game of the two-game weekend set at BB&T Arena tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPN+.

 

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