The NKU men’s basketball team captured their tenth win on the season with a 65-62 victory over Northern Illinois on Thursday night at BB&T Arena.
Despite shooting 30 percent (19-62) from the floor and being out-rebounded 42-40, the Norse pulled out an at-home win with solid performances from Drew McDonald, who led NKU with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jalen Tate and Tyler Sharpe also posted 14 points apiece, and Dantez Walton contributed 11 points and 3 steals.
Head Coach John Brannen gave a lot of credit to the team’s defensive effort.
“Tonight what we did defensively, in large part to Coach Dwyer, who did a great job with our game planning, our assistant coach, and our guys commitment level to playing tough man-to-man defense with sprinkling in zone, was really impressive,” Brannen said.
Winning the turnover battle was key for the Norse. NKU scored 19 points off 14 NIU turnovers. The Norse, however, only committed 5 turnovers.
Freshman Trevon Faulkner made some big plays in the second half, adding a much-needed spark to the game.
“Trevon provided a specific spark in the game, not only defensively,” Brannen said. “Trevon came in and got like 4 straight offensive rebounds, 2 loose balls, knocked the ball off a guy’s foot. He emotionally brought the emotion of the entire team to where it needed to be, to start playing well.”
McDonald notched his second consecutive double-double tonight, bringing McDonald’s career total to 40. After only scoring 1 point in the first half, McDonald poured in 14 in the second half.
“We didn’t really make many adjustments (at halftime) to be honest with you, I was just trying to take what the defense gave me,” McDonald said.
With the win tonight, the Norse stand at 10-3 and finished with their best record in non-conference play in the Division I era so far.
Up next, Horizon League play begins. The IUPUI Jaguars come to Highland Heights on Dec. 28, tipoff time is 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted live on ESPN+.
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