The Norse of Northern Kentucky University held on during a game full of momentum changes to defeat Lewis University, 77-66, on Saturday, to remain undefeated at home this season.
“Lewis did a great job with the comeback, but we were able to hold on and get a win against a very good team,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said in an article on the NKU website.
The Flyers lead the Norse until 2:08 left in the first half, when senior guard Jon Van Hoose drained his first of four three-pointers to give NKU its first lead of the game.Van Hoose came into the game leading the nation in three-pointers, averaging 3.9 per game. He finished his last homecoming game with 14 points, three rebounds and one assist.
"We came out a little bit back on our heels," Van Hoose said.
DeAndre Nealy was the leading scorer for the Norse, with 17 points. Nealy also made four of his six rebounds on defense. He also lead the Norse with seven blocks, three of which came in the final three minutes of the game. He has now rejected 47 shots this season. Nealy and Van Hoose were two of five players to land in double figures for the Norse.
“DeAndre seemed to be everywhere during those final minutes of the game, and he made big play after big play when we needed it,” Bezold said in an article on the NKU website.
The tenacious Flyers gave the Norse all that it could handle, including a comeback from 61-44 deficit in the second half, to come within four points (70-66). Justin Jarosz lead the Flyers in scoring with 16 points and Ryan Jackson topped the Flyers in rebounds with six boards.
Eshaunte Jones ended the game with 12 points, three assists and two rebounds.
"We had to change our momentum and match their intensity." Jones said.
"We just kind of relaxed, started settling on offense," Van Hoose said.
The Norse were 27-for-49 from the field and shot 51.7 percent from behind the arc. However, NKU struggled from the free throw line, with 61.5 percent to the Flyers' 72.7 percent and more than doubled the Flyers' turnovers, 15 to seven.
"Lately, we've been getting in a lot of foul trouble, we have to play smarter," Van Hoose said.
NKU built a 17-4 run and 61-44 lead at 10:48 in the second half when Jones shot one of his four three-pointers.
The Norse has now won the last five meetings with Lewis and owns a 38-16 all-time record against the Flyers.
NKU is now 15-2 overall, 7-2 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. On Thursday, the Norse will host top-ranked Kentucky Wesleyan at 7:30 p.m.
"We just need a good week of practice and take care of business," Jones said.
Monica Fritsch is a correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.