The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

IUPUI cruises past NKU 78-53 on Saturday

NKU shot 35 percent from the field in the loss

February 12, 2022

The IUPUI Jaguars women’s basketball team took a double-digit lead into halftime and never looked back, coasting past the Northern Kentucky Norse on Saturday at BB&T Arena, 78-53. 

IUPUI is one of the top teams in the conference, now winners of 13 consecutive games and perched atop the Horizon League standings with a 14-3 record in conference play. 

But a 25-point loss, to a team that the Norse defeated on the road less than two months prior, was not what the Norse had in mind on Saturday.

“Today was a good indicator of what IUPUI is capable of,” NKU head coach Camryn Whitaker said. “They played an extremely good game today and I thought all of their players played really well.”

The Norse connected on three of their first four field goal attempts to take an early 6-2 lead, though it took IUPUI just under two minutes to grab a 10-6 lead soon after.

Redshirt senior guard Rachel McLimore scored six of the Jaguars’ first 12 points, as she and graduate forward Macee Williams propelled IUPUI to 14-8 lead at the first timeout of the opening quarter.

Williams entered Saturday’s game averaging a double-double for the season at 17.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, while also leading the Jaguars in steals with 27. One of the most talented players in the Horizon League, Williams’ ability to make a huge impact on both ends of the floor has been problematic for opposing teams this season, a fact the Norse were well aware of entering the game.

“She takes so much attention and then it frees up their perimeter,” Whitaker said about the reigning three-time Horizon League Player of the Year, Williams. “She’s a phenomenal player, there’s no doubt about that, and she does it in multiple ways.”

At the end of the first quarter, the Jaguars led 18-14, powered by eight points from McLimore. IUPUI shot almost 70 percent from the field in the first quarter, while the Norse shot 33 percent on their 18 shot attempts. 

In the first meeting between these two teams, a game in which the Norse defeated the Jaguars on the road at the end of December, McLimore scored just two points on 1-11 shooting from the field. She would finish Saturday’s game with 17 points, a stark contrast to the game back in December.

A strong start to the second quarter brought the Norse to within one of IUPUI multiple times but several timely baskets from McLimore and graduate forward Madison Wise extended the Jaguars lead.

The Jaguars did most of their damage in the first half inside the paint, mainly from finding Williams on the block to make a post move. Williams led all scorers with 14 points at halftime, shooting 6-8 from the field.

In an uncharacteristic shooting display, the Norse were held scoreless over the final 4:34 of the first half, as the Jaguars went into the locker room on an 11-0 run and led 41-27 at halftime.

In addition to Williams’ 14 points, McLimore and Wise collected 11 and 10 respectively in the opening half as the Jaguars shot 60.7 percent from the field. NKU stifled the Jaguars from three as they shot just 2-7 from beyond the arc. Regardless, IUIPUI’s interior scoring, combined with a 35 percent shooting percentage from the Norse created a large deficit for the Norse to erase in the second half.

A 5-0 run to begin the second half prompted a quick timeout by Whitaker and the Norse as the Jaguars pushed their lead to 19 at the beginning of the third quarter.

NKU came out of the break with a similar 5-0 run of their own, but the Jaguars continued to find success on the majority of their field goal attempts, including two threes from McLimore and a pair of baskets from Wise. For Wise, her 18 points were a season-high, as she also chipped in seven rebounds and four assists.

“They’re really good, they’re fast and quick and able to get to the paint really quick, so I just tried to do my job and keep them out of the paint and make them make a tough shot,” junior guard Ivy Turner said about McLimore and Wise, each of whom stand over 5’10.

At the end of the third quarter, IUPUI held a commanding 61-38 lead, buoyed by strong defense and a 53.8 percent field goal percentage in the third quarter. 

The onslaught continued into the fourth quarter, reaching its pinnacle with just over three minutes remaining as a three by Rachel Kent stretched the lead to 30 points, 74-44.

Several late buckets by the Norse, including a pair of threes from freshman guard Kailee Davis cut the deficit by a few points, but the Norse still ended up on the wrong side of a 78-53 annihilation at BB&T Arena.

IUPUI did an excellent job of slowing down the Norse’s leading scorer, redshirt senior guard Lindsey Duvall, who finished with just four points and shot 2-9 from the field. Turner led the Norse with 17 points, while forward Emmy Souder and Davis each added nine points.

As the Norse prepare for the remaining four games of the regular season, the hope around the team is that this loss could light a fire under the team as they make a run toward a Horizon League tournament title. 

“There’s two ways it can go. We can throw in the towel or we can fight and I know we’ve got a team of fighters,” Whitaker said.

Grayson Rose, a leader for the Norse who has played well over 100 games at NKU, has been on both sides of these lopsided games during her career, and her message to the rest of the team is simple: “Let this fuel our fire.”

The schedule doesn’t let up for the Norse, as their next game will be Friday, Feb. 18 at Youngstown State, a team that is second in the Horizon League with a 14-3 conference record. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

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