The Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball team used a 19-5 run to come within five points of North Carolina Central with 21 seconds to play on Saturday, but fell to the Eagles, 82-74, at BB&T Arena despite 20-point performances from both Drew McDonald and Lavone Holland II.
With the loss, NKU moves to 3-3 overall while the Eagles improve to 3-2.
· McDonald turned in his third double-double in the last four games and posted his fourth-straight game with 20 or more points. He brought down 11 rebounds including seven on the offensive end and tied Holland with a team-best 20 points.
· Holland reached the 20-point mark with a 6-for-12 showing from the field including a 3-for-7 performance from behind the arc.
· Freshman Blake Spellman dished out a career-high and team-best five assists in 19 minutes of action.
· The Norse led throughout the first portion of the game until North Carolina Central closed the first half on an 18-0 run. The Eagles claimed their first lead of the game amid the run when they jumped ahead 30-29 with 5:04 left in the half.
· McDonald and Holland combined for 11 points across a two-minute span in the second half to bring the Norse within four of NCC at 53-49 with 10:50 on the clock, the closest they would get to the Eagles throughout the remainder of the game.
· The Norse claimed their largest lead of the game as they rode an 8-0 run to lead it 17-8 at the midway point of the first period. The run featured a pair of triples from Cole Murray and Spellman as the Norse held NC Central without a field goal for over three and a half minutes.
· The Eagles chipped away at the deficit using 9-for-12 shooting across the final seven minutes as they put together their 18-0 run. The Eagles’ Patrick Cole – the game’s leading scorer – contributed eight points to the run as he closed the half with a game-high 15 points.
· North Carolina Central held a 23-18 edge in first-half rebounds, with the Norse bringing down nine offensive boards to NCC’s six.
· Spellman broke NKU’s scoring drought with a triple at the 17:35 mark to spark eight uninterrupted points from the Norse that also included a three from McDonald and a Williams layup.
· The run helped bring the Norse within seven as they cut the NCC lead to 44-37 with 16:17 remaining.
· McDonald and Holland then chipped in for 11 combined points to come within four of NCC at 53-49 with 10:50 on the clock.
· The Eagles responded with 11 uninterrupted points to get back out to a 66-51 lead with just under seven minutes to play.
· NKU out-scored NC Central, 19-5, over a five minute span to come within five with 21 seconds left to play but the Eagles would close out the victory with four points in the final stretch.
· While McDonald has posted four-straight games with 20 or more points, Holland has turned in back-to-back 20-point performances. The junior has 45 points across the last two games.
· Despite being narrowly out-rebounded 41-39, the Norse brought down 16 offensive boards to NCC’s seven. NKU has out-rebounded its opponents 65-40 on the offensive glass this season. The only game in which the Norse did not win the offensive rebounding battle was against Miami (Ohio) when the teams were tied with eight offensive rebounds apiece.
· Northern Kentucky shot 51.3 percent in the second half on 16-for-31 shooting, including an 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) showing from three. The Norse out-scored NCC, 45-40, in the second period.
· The Norse open a two-game road swing on Wednesday, Nov. 30 when they travel to take on in-state foe Morehead State at 7 p.m.
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by Melissa Powell