After playing three games on the road, the Northern Kentucky University Norse hosted the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers at the Bank of Kentucky Center on Thursday in front of a crowd of 1,340.
The No. 9 Norse shot 59.3 percent from the field and went 61.5 percent from the free-throw line in their 87-60 win over the Rangers. Head coach Dave Bezold said that being home was an important factor in NKU's victory after a long road trip.
"Four games in seven days is a lot," Bezold said.
Eshaunte Jones topped the scoreboard with 15 points on 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. Chad Jackson, Jon Van Hoose and Ernest "Stretch" Watson also scored in double figures.
Within in the first five minutes of the first half, the Norse had a 14-4 lead over the Rangers. At the break, they extended the lead to 43-26. The scoring was balanced amongst the Norse throughout the half—something Bezold said is always a goal.
"We want to be balanced, share the basketball and get each other great shots," Bezold said.
Jones and Van Hoose were also successful from three-point range, each scoring three baskets from behind the arc. Van Hoose also was the co-leader in assists with Ethan Faulkner. Faulkner ended the game with eight points.
"We were trying not to let them get any shots off," Faulkner said.
Faulkner also said that they were trying to widen the gaps in the Rangers' defense.
"Our shooters did a good job of moving and getting open," Faulkner added.
NKU, who is now 14-2 overall and 6-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, notched 37 rebounds, led by Alex McGlothin and Watson, who each tallied nine boards.
The Norse, who snapped a two-game losing streak dealt on the road by Drury and Bellarmine, are now 10-0 this season and 49-5 all-time at home. If NKU had beaten Drury, they would've broken the school's record for the best start to a season. NKU tied the record against Missouri S&T at 13-0.
"That was the most frustrating game of basketball I've had to sit through in the last six years or so," Bezold said.
"They were shooting 59 percent from the floor, and you're not going to beat them when they're shooting 59 percent from their home floor," Faulkner said.
Bezold said he thought the Norse played well against Bellarmine, though.
"We just didn't make shots, but we played well despite that," Bezold said.
The leading scorer for the Rangers was Leneal Harris, with 14 points, and Ziggy Riauka was the only Ranger able to block a Norse basket.
Saturday is Homecoming at NKU, and they will host the Lewis University Flyers at 5 p.m.
Monica Fritsch is a correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.