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NKU ends a couple of streaks vs. Oakland with big-time offense as Warrick nears career scoring mark

By Dan Weber
NKyTribune sports reporter

Once again, it came down to overtime. As was the case Jan. 10 against Oakland on the road, NKU would have a shot in an extra five minutes. A month ago, the Norse came up five points short in a 70-65 loss.

NKU’s Michael Bradley just beats and Oakland defender to the spot for this shot. (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

Thursday night at Truist Arena, NKU battled back from behind, got this important Horizon League came into overtime at 80-80. And shot themselves into a double-digit, 99-89 win with a 19-9 overtime edge against a league-leading Grizzlies team (15-10, 10-4 Horizon League) that had won nine of its last 10 coming into this game.

Hitting on 58.1 percent (36 of 62) of their field goal attempts, 20 fewer attempts than Oakland took, the Norse had the edge against an Oakland team that made just 39.0 percent (32 of 82) of its shots, although 49 of those were from long range. NKU also converted 19 of 23 free throw attempts (87.1 percent).

“I thought we defended really well,” NKU Coach Darrin Horn said on ending his team’s three-game losing streak, noting how tough an Oakland team that beat Xavier this season with its size and shooters, was to defend against. “We just continue to fight and played with confidence, especially down the stretch.”

Horn said that when you go down the box score and see “how many guys played well – two with double-doubles and Michael Bradley was off the charts with 26 points and eight assists,” you should have a pretty good chance to win.

NKU’s offensive outburst came thanks to a trio of players scoring 20 or more points led by Bradley, a grad student transfer from San Antonio, Tex., with his NKU-career-high 26 points while committing just one turnover.

NKU’s Keeyan Itejere has both hands on the ball and is not giving it up. (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

Trey Robinson and soon-to-be-career-scoring-leader Marques Warrick scored 20 apiece, bringing Warrick to 2,047 career points, within 19 of the all-time NKU career mark of Drew McDonald’s 2,066.

For Robinson, who also had 11 rebounds, it was his second career double-double and season-highs in both points and rebounds. Keeyan Itejere, a 6-foot-9 sophomore transfer from Marquette, also had a first-ever career double-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds while blocking three shots.

More importantly for the moment, NKU returned to .500 – 12-12 on the season – and even more importantly, to above .500 – 7-6 – in the Horizon League. That elevates the Norse into a tie for the No. 6 spot in the Horizon, within shouting distance of a place in the league’s top four that will get them a home postseason playoff game and an edge to get to the semifinals in Indianapolis where NKU has managed to win its way to the NCAA Tournament four of the last seven seasons.

The win “guarantees nothing” however, Horn said, “now we’ve just got to get back to work.”

NKU’s Trey Robinson on his way to season highs with 20 points, 11 rebounds (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

The loss dropped Oakland out of first place, a half-game behind Green Bay (11-3). NKU is now tied with Milwaukee and a game-and-a-half behind fourth-place Wright State (9-5) and a game behind fifth-place Cleveland State.

For Warrick, a senior from Lexington, it was the second straight 20-point game on this three-game homestand. If he can accomplish that feat again Saturday in a 4 p.m. game against Detroit at Truist, he will become NKU’s all-time leading scorer.

“I know it means a lot to ‘Ques do it at home in front of our fans,” Horn said of Saturday’s record-breaking opportunity for Warrick.

Oakland 40 40 9—89 40 40 9 89
Northern Kentucky 38 42 19–99

OAKLAND (15-10, 10-4 Horizon): Cole 2-9 1-8 3-5 8, Lampman 7-19 6-18 4-4 24, Conway 6-10 0-0 0-0 12, Townsend 8-17 0-0 4-5 20, Jones 0—1 0-0 0-0 0, Watts 1-4 0-2 0-0 2, Naivalurua 1-1 0-0 0-0 2, Price 0-1 0-1 0-0 0, Gohlke 7-20 7-20 0-0 21; TOTALS: 32-82 14-49 11-14 89.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY (12-12, 7-6 Horizon): Robinson 8012 0-1 4-6 20, Bradley 9-13 4-7 4-4 26, Warrick 6-13 2-7 6-7 20, Itejere 6-6 0-0 1-2 13, Wells 2-5 1-2 0-0 5, Pettus II 4-7 1-4 4-4 13, Israel 1-5 0-0 0-0 2, Tchilombo 0-1 0-0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 36-62 8-21 19-23 99.

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