A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

No go for NKU’s struggling Norse men in Horizon but a double-dip G-MAC win for Thomas More’s Saints


By Dan Weber
NKyTribune sports reporter

Maybe it was always asking too much for this NKU basketball team, after the loss of leader Sam Vinson, to get itself together as it has in recent years when Coach Darrin Horn’s words that all that matters is “winning in March,” were both prophetic and predictive.

With a Write state defender’s hand in his face most of the game, NKU’s Marques Warrick still managed to score 20 points. (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

But the best way to win in March and advance to the NCAA Tournament – as the Norse have done in four of the last seven years – was by winning enough Horizon League games in December, January and February to finish in the league’s top four, earn a spot in the semifinals in Indianapolis and then turn up that magic matchup defense and win two games there.

It was always a great plan. If, that is, NKU finished in the top four, which looks more and more in doubt after Saturday’s 85-78 Homecoming loss in front of a terrific Truist Arena crowd of 4,760 to a Wright State team not playing a whole lot better than NKU.

That followed an 82-52 road wipeout a week ago at Youngstown State, a team NKU had beaten in early January at Truist. Do the math for the last two games that drop NKU to below .500 – 11-12 overall – and 6-6 in the Horizon, putting them in a tie for seventh place and on the road in the first round of the postseason playoffs without an immediate course correction.

That 6-6 record ties NKU with Purdue Ft. Wayne for the No. 7 spot, 1 ½ games behind an 8-5 Wright State team currently occupying the coveted No. 4 slot. The bad news for NKU here is the Norse, after a three-game losing streak, will have to finish up the regular season at Wright State. Also, four of the final six NKU games are on the road, where NKU is currently 3-9 overall this season.

NKU’s Michael Bradley tries to find some dribbling room against Wright State defender Alex Huibregste (Photo by Dale Dawn/NKyTribune)

The one good bit of news, outside of Sunday’s attendance, is what appears to be the inevitable progress of senior Marques Warrick on his run to finish up as the school’s all-time leading scorer. He was presented with the game ball for reaching 2,000 points earlier in the week at Sunday’s game.

With his NKU-high 20 points despite not getting a great many open looks against a Raiders’ defense that always knew where he was, Warrick now has 2,027 points, just 39 behind the 2,066 of No. 1 Drew McDonald, who did the color analysis on Sunday’s game for Bally sports.

NKU did have its chances, the last with 1:27 left when down five, 72-67, Warrick hit a three only to have it erased by an illegal pick. Wright State immediately scored and instead of being down two with a minute left, NKU was down seven.

For the game, the NKU defenders allowed Wright State to shoot a sizzling 57.9 percent (33 of 57) while barely hitting 40 (40.9 percent on 27 of 66). And a 16-0 game-deciding scoring drought (from leading 59-54 to trailing 70-59) finished the Norse.

All of which points out how NKU hasn’t been able to replace the 6-foot-5, three-year starter Vinson, the organizing principle on offense with the big assist or tough shot, or on defense, with the big steal or rebound, that made the difference between winning and losing.

NKU faces Horizon No. 1 Oakland (10-3 in the league) Thursday at Truist. And for NKU fans, there is hope. The Norse have beaten the other team tied for first, Green Bay, 74-52, Jan. 20, although they lost at Oakland, Jan. 10, 70-65.

SCORING SUMMARY
WRIGHT STATE 41 44—85
NORTHERN KENTUCKY 40-38—78
WRIGHT STATE (13-12, 8-5): Calvin 6-11 2-6 7-9 21, Huibregste 7-13 3-8 0-0 17, Noel 6-9 1-2 2-4 15, Braun 6-8 0-0 1-3 13, Carter 3-5 0-2 0-0 6, Holden 5-9 0-2 3-7 13, Brown 0-1 0-1 0-0 0, Welage 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Woods 0-1 0-1 0-0 0; TOTALS: 33-57 6-22; TOTALS: 33-57 6-22 13-23 85.
NORTHERN KENTUCKY (11-12, 6-6): Warrick 6-17 05 8-9 20, Bradley 6-11 3-7 2-4 17, Robinson 7-18 1-6 0-0 15, Pettus II 3-5 2-3 5-6 13, Israel 0-4 0-1 0-0 0, Tchilombo 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS: 27-66 8-26 16-22 78.

THOMAS MORE WINS 2 AGAINST TIFFIN

With an 82-65 Great Midwest Athletic Conference win over Tiffin, their fourth straight, the Thomas More women improved to 14-7 overall and 10-4 in the G-MAC.

The Saints’ men had a more difficult time of it against the Tiffin men, having to go into overtime for a 76-72 win in the nightcap of a Connor Convocation Center doubleheader Saturday.

The win improved the TMU women to 10-4 in the G-MAC, good for No. 3 in the 14-team league behind Ashland (12-0) and Kentucky Wesleyan (10-3).

Thomas More’s Alex Smith (File photo)

The TMU men – now 8-6 in the G-MAC – moved into the No. 7 spot in the 13-team league, but just a game behind No. 3 Walsh (8-4).

TMU WOMEN MOVING ON UP AS SMITH RECORDS HER 1,000TH POINT

From the game’s first three to her 24 team-high points, Alex Smith had it going for the Saints on a day the Cincinnati Mercy Macauley grad recorded her career 1000th point against Tiffin.

Rylee Turner, out of Newport Central Catholic, just missed a triple-double with 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a game that followed her career-high 24 points in an 87-68 win over Cedarville Thursday. Kelly Brenner with 14 points and Mattison Vickers with 12 gave the Saints, who hit on 49.1 percent (27 of 55) from the field, four double-figure scorers.

UP NEXT for the TMU women: They travel to Nashville for a matchup with Trevecca Nazarene Tuesday (6:30 p.m.).

SCORING SUMMARY
TIFFIN 6 18 21 20—65
THOMAS MORE 21 20 25 16—82
TIFFIN (4-18, 2-12): Williams 8-17 4-9 1-1 21, Brinson 1-4 0-1 5-5 7, Richards 3-4 0-0 0-0 6, Lindesmith 1-3 1-3 0-0 3, Feltner 0-2 0-0 0-0 0, Craig 4-7 0-0 0-0 8, Hinkle 3-6 0-1 0-0 6, Peyton 1-3 1-2 1-3 4, Reichard 2-4 0-0 0-0 4, Gabel 1-2 1-1 0-0 3, Moeller1-5 1-3 0-0 3, Irwin 0-1 0-1 0-0 0, Maple 0-0 0-0 0-0 0, Hayward 0-0 0-0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 25-58 8-21 7-9 65.
THOMAS MORE (14-7, 10-4): Smith 6-11 4-9 8-8 24, Brenner 5-10 4-8 0-0 14, Turner 3-5 1-3 3-6 10, M. Hunt 3-5 3-3 0-0 9, Jones 3-6 1-1 0-0 7, Mattison 5-9 3-5 0-0 13, Tandy 1-3 0-0 1-2 3, Morgan 1-4 0-0 0-0 2, C. Hunt 0-2 0-2 0-0 0; TOTALS: 27-55 16-32 12-16 82.

Reid Jolly, driving against Cumberland last season, continues to lead Thomas More in scoring. (File photo)

SAINTS’ MEN HALT 2-GAME LOSING STREAK IN OT

Wyatt Vieth and Kyle Ross scored four points and grabbed a pair of rebounds each in overtime to help the TMU men to a tough 76-72 overtime win against Tiffin’s Dragons. Reid Jolly’s two free throws, on his way to a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds (along with Vieth and Ross on the rebounds) secured the victory on a day when the Saints hit on 45.8 percent (27 of 59) from the field but a strong 88.9 percent (16 of 18) from the line.

TMU outscored Tiffin, 12-8 in overtime, to secure the win.

Saints’ freshman Nathan Dudukovich hit for 19 points while Casey George’s six assists topped TMU there. Jacob Jones finished with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists.

UP NEXT: Following the women, the TMU men head to Nashville for a Saturday game (2 p.m. ET) against Trevecca Nazarene.

SCORING SUMMARY
TIFFIN 32 32 8—72
THOMAS MORE 38 26 12—76
TIFFIN (12-7, 6-5): Morgan 11-26 0-3 4-6 26, Jordan 8-15 0-2 9-11 25, Lopez 3-8 1-3 0-0 7, Swaby 2-8 1-5 0-0 5, Brown 2-4 1-3 0-0 5, Muhammad 0-1 0-0 2-2 2, Gooden 0-2 0-0 2-2 2, Pleiman 0-1 0-1 0-0 0, TOTALS: 26-65 3-17 17-21 72.
THOMAS MORE (13-9, 8-6): Reid 7-14 0-1 5-5 19, Dudukovich 5-8 3-6 4-5 17, Jones 5-14 2-4 2-2 14, Ross 3-5 0-2 2-2 8, George 2-9 0-2 1-2 5, Vieth 3-6 1-3 2-2 9, Browne 2-3 0-0 0-0 4; TOTALS: 27-59 6-18 16-18 76.

Contact Dan Weber at dweber3440@aol.com. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @dweber3440.


Related Posts

Leave a Comment