Northern Kentucky Advances to Conference Finals with Win over Missouri-St. Louis

Monica FritschCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2012

No. 40 Eshaunte Jones drained a three-pointer to give No. 3 NKU a 72-70 win over No. 2 Missouri-St. Louis.
No. 40 Eshaunte Jones drained a three-pointer to give No. 3 NKU a 72-70 win over No. 2 Missouri-St. Louis.

The No. 3 Northern Kentucky University Norse advanced to their fourth Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship game on Saturday with an upset win over No. 2 University of Missouri-St. Louis Tritons.

The Norse got off to a slow start and allowed the Tritons to go on a 6-0 run. At 16:25 senior guard Jon Van Hoose drained a three-pointer to get NKU on the scoreboard. Van Hoose ended the game with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal.

It wasn't an easy win by any means. UMSL led the entire first half, and at the break, the Tritons held a 27-24 advantage over the Norse. UMSL shot 34.48 percent from the field and 33.33 percent from behind the arc.

Less than a minute into the second half, junior Eshaunte "Bear" Jones scored a three-pointer to tie the game. The Norse shot 58.3 percent from behind the arc, with Jones and Van Hoose each scoring six of the team's 14 treys.

With NKU down 70-69, Van Hoose got the rebound off of a missed free throw from Joshua McCoy and passed to Jones. Jones completed a fast break and sank a three-pointer at :03 left in the game to give NKU the 72-70 victory.

"That was an incredible shooting performance in the second half, and all I can say about Eshaunte is the guy is clutch,” NKU head coach Dave Bezold said in an article on the NKU  website.

Jones is no stranger to succeeding in pressure situations. Prior to the start of the season, Jones also sank a three-pointer at the last buzzer to give the Norse an exhibition 77-74 win over West Virginia.

"That's twice this season he has hit big-time shots to win games, and this one was in the conference semifinals.” Bezold said in the same article.

The Norse will face No. 5 Southern Indiana for the Conference title on Sunday at 4:30 PM EST. The Knights upset No. 1 Bellarmine University in the second semifinal.

Monica Fritsch is a correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.