Truist Arena will need to check their profit and loss statements by the end of the Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball season for as much overtime they’ve had to dole out.
For the third time this season, the Norse needed more than 40 minutes to determine a winner. And for the third time, the Norse (10-7, 5-1) came away winners in overtime at Truist Arena on Sunday in a 78-76 victory over Detroit Mercy (6-11, 2-4).
“I don’t know how many times I’ve had to save this, but if you’re paying to come to our games, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth,” Norse coach Darrin Horn said. “They’re exciting basketball games. It would be nice to finish that one in regulation, but give Detroit credit.”
Trevon Faulkner sent the game to overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to knot the game at 71. Faulkner, the fifth-year senior, received a pass from Sam Vinson, took a dribble to his right and drained the contested trey.
“It was a great play by coach. Sam made a good pass and I just kind of felt comfortable. It was kind of an instinct thing, felt comfortable going to my right and knew we needed a three. Just felt comfortable on the shot and it went in,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner had also hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first half to give the Norse a 36-35 lead at the break.
“It was really me just getting to my spot and my teammates doing a great job finding me. They tried to make a read, it wasn’t there and they found me. Just work on what we’ve been working on, putting in the work shooting, trying to get more consistent in that and my teammates found me,” Faulkner said.
Less than 48 hours after seeing a seven-point lead evaporate in the game’s final 90 seconds in a loss to Oakland, the Norse once again found themselves letting a lead slip away, up nine on the Titans with 9:18 to play.
Antoine Davis started to cook things up for the Titans, entering the game as the NCAA’s seventh all-time leading scorer with 3,130 career points. Trailing 56-47 with 7:45 to go, Davis scored 15 points down the stretch, the last two on free throws with nine seconds remaining to make it 71-68.
“I’ve been at this a long time, Antoine Davis is as dynamic and difficult to player to guard in those kinds of situations about anybody besides maybe Trae Young that I’ve had to coach against,” Horn said.
Davis finished with 29 points, passing former Creighton Bluejay for sixth all-time on the list.
But Faulkner’s triple meant five more minutes. And the Norse locked in from there.
The only field goal for the Titans in the overtime was a jumper by Jayden Stone with 3:08 remaining to give Detroit a 73-72 lead.
A’lahn Sumler, who scored 12 points off the bench for the Norse, then answered with a triple to give the Norse the lead for good at 75-73 with 2:07 remaining. Sumler had just eight points in the previous four games after tying career-highs with consecutive games of 12 points in wins over Eastern Kentucky and Miami (Ohio) Hamilton on December 14 and 18, got his chance on Sunday with 33 minutes of action and making the most of it, adding six rebounds.
“I just focused in on something other than offense. The other games I was in my own head and this game I focused in on my coaches telling me I got to guard. I guarded, did what I was supposed to do and my offense came after that,” Sumler said.
Marques Warrick followed with a jumper for a 77-73 lead, the Norse able to close it out from there as Vinson secured a rebound on an intentional miss on a Titans free throw with 0.9 seconds left.
There’s still 14 conference games left, but the win got the Norse to 5-1 in conference play and tied atop the Horizon with Milwaukee. It also helped them avoid back-to-back losses at home when seven of their final eight games are away from Truist Arena.
“It’s easy to watch a game and say, ‘You got up a certain amount and oh, what happened?’ What happens is the other team is still playing right? The other team has good players and in these last two games, the two most dynamic guys in our league in terms of with the ball in their hands and creating shots and the ability to make threes especially under pressure and being challenged,” Horn said. “It’s a long season and our whole deal is can we be better at things like knowing personnel and playing that the right way and executing it on the defensive end and guys playing with confidence offensively. Those are the kind of things we look at as we move forward through the season. We’ll always take a win, but you don’t want to put a lot on the sixth conference game of the year.”
Warrick led the Norse with 19 points, Faulkner with 14, Sumler with 12 as the Norse bench outscored the Titans bench 38-19. The Norse also held a distinct advantage in the paint, outscoring the Titans 38-16. Vinson added seven points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Norse return to action on Thursday at Milwaukee with first place in the Horizon on the line, both teams sitting at 5-1 in conference play.