The No. 11 (Division II) Northern Kentucky University men's basketball team kept its winning streak alive with a 76-72 defeat of William Jewell College Thursday night. However, it was its toughest contest so far this season.
“We made some big plays in overtime, and I'm just happy we were able to pull it out,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said. "I know it was the program's 700th win, so that makes it special. I'm just glad we were able to escape with a win because William Jewell played very well."
The Norse dominated the scoreboard at the start, with a 9-0 run, until WJC's Mark Mason made one of two free throws. In the free throw category, the Norse couldn't keep up with the Cardinals, making 64.3 percent to their 66.7 percent.
With WJC down 16-13 with 11:11 left in the first half, Devonte Bell got a rebound off a three-point miss by Jon Van Hoose. He then made a three-point attempt and score of his own. This would be the first of seven ties in the game.
The second half started with the Norse gaining their largest lead of the game, 14 points. However, with WJC gaining confidence, the lead dwindled and the Cardinals took the lead after Nick Larson made two free throws.
Chad Jackson was NKU's leader in total points (19), free throws (11-of-18) and rebounds (eight), seven of which were defensive.
Ethan Faulkner and Tony Rack helped the Norse to victory with their defense. Faulkner had four assists and Rack had four steals, one of which came with 1:22 left. Jackson missed the front end of the bonus, WJC's Craig Mattson got the rebound, only to be stolen by Rack and passed to Eshaunte Jones, giving the Norse a 61-58 edge.
“That was a huge play by Tony Rack to the steal and pass to Jones for a basket,” Bezold said.
Mattson buried a three-pointer to tie the game at 63-all with 17.3 seconds left. Unable to answer in regulation, the game headed to overtime. The Norse were just 6-of-15 from three-point range. A layup by Faulkner with 0:41 left sealed the deal, 76-72, for NKU as it got the program's 700th all-time win.
Monica Fritsch is a correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.