Northern Kentucky 82
Final from Highland Heights, Kentucky
Game recap by NKU:
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The Northern Kentucky University men's basketball team defeated Horizon League-leading Valparaiso 82-78 on Sunday afternoon at BB&T Arena. In the process, the Norse guaranteed at least a share of third-place in the league standings.
The victory moves NKU to 21-10 on the year, including a 12-6 mark in league play. Valpo slips to 24-7 and 14-4 in the Horizon. Seniors Cole Murray, Matt Rosenwinkel and Dean Danos were honored in a pregame ceremony.
Drew McDonald converted 8-of-13 field goal attempts and made all six free throws en route to a team-high 23 points. He added a game-high six rebounds.
Lavone Holland II was just shy of an unconventional double-double, finishing with 17 points and nine assists. The nine assists tie his career-mark.
Carson Williams was the beneficiary of multiple Holland assists. He was 5-of-7 from the floor and 7-of-7 at the charity stripe in his 17-point effort.
Valparaiso took its first and only lead of the game with 12:39 left in the second half. Holland answered with a three for the Norse.
Derrik Smitz knotted the game at 58-all on the game's next possession, but Murray responded with his third three of the game to put NKU ahead for good.
NKU's last field goal of the game was a turnaround jumper from McDonald with just over a minute remaining. That bucket put the Norse ahead five and NKU went 6-for-6 down the stretch at the line to seal the win.
Jordan Garnett started the game with an emphatic dunk on NKU's second possession and the Norse never trailed in the opening half.
Jeff Garrett scored four-straight points to put the Norse ahead, 16-6, which was the largest lead of the game for either team.
Northern Kentucky led 40-37 at intermission thanks to blistering shooting on offensive. NKU shot 64 percent (14-of-22) from the floor, despite just shooting 14.3 percent (1-of-7) from three. Valpo converted just 44 percent (12-of-27) in the first half.
Williams had 13 in the stanza and McDonald added 12.
The Norse continued their torrid shooting in the second half, making 52 percent (12-of-23) from the floor and 58 percent (7-of-12) from three.
There were four ties and just two lead changes in the second half, but NKU responded after the final lead change. The first bucket was Murray's three.
NKU's lead reached as much as eight points, 69-61, with six minutes remaining and the Norse led the rest of the way.
The Norse are guaranteed at least a tie for third-place in the Horizon League. A loss from Green Bay in its game Sunday afternoon gives NKU sole possession of third.
Northern Kentucky shot 58 percent (26-of-45) for the game, marking the best shooting performance any team has put up against Valpo's defense this year.
NKU won the rebounding battle (28-27) for the 24th time, improving to 19-5 in such games.
NKU moved to 17-3 on the season when a player reaches at least 20 points in the win column. McDonald's 23-point effort was the 25th time a Norse put up at least 20 points.
Northern Kentucky is also 13-0 when scoring 80 or more points and 18-4 when posting at least 70.
The Norse await their seeding for Motor City Madness, the Horizon League's postseason tournament. NKU has already solidified either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed and will play on Sunday, March 5 in Detroit.
Final Horizon League Standings
TEAM CONF OVERALL
Oakland 14-4 24-7
Valparaiso 14-4 24-7
Northern Kentucky 12-6 21-10
Green Bay 12-6 18-12
Wright State 11-7 20-11
UIC 7-11 14-17
Detroit Mercy 6-12 8-22
Youngstown State 5-13 11-20
Cleveland State 5-13 9-21
Milwaukee 4-14 8-23
02/26 - 03/05
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