The Northern Kentucky women’s basketball team ventured just under three hours north on Interstate 75 hoping to earn a win.
But the Norse (3-2 overall) came up short 76-68 against the Bowling Green Falcons (4-1) at the Stroh Center on Wednesday. Both of NKU’s losses have come on the road against Mid-American Conference opponents.
“I think outside of that first quarter, we made some good defensive adjustments,” said Camryn Whitaker, Northern Kentucky head coach. “That was a big point of emphasis for us. Bowling Green is really experienced. We want to play teams like this that will help us prepare for the Horizon League.”
Bowling Green shot the ball better than NKU, making 28 of 63 attempts, while the Norse hit 22 of 59.
“I think it was a great challenge,” said Robyn Fralick, Bowling Green head coach. “They’ve been a really dynamic offensive team so far this season and it was our first close game. In all our other games, it has not come down to the last possessions like that. I think we learned a lot. There are part of the game we can learn and develop on. But I also thought we got some critical stops and we had some kids make some critical, critical baskets.”
Northern Kentucky shot free throws well to stick around until late in the game as both teams drew 22 fouls. The Norse made 21 of 26 free throws and the Falcons made 16 of 23 for 70 percent.
Turnovers made a difference. Northern Kentucky turned over the ball 21 times while Bowling Green lost possession 17 times. The Falcons, however, made 24 points off NKU’s turnovers while the Norse only scored 14 when taking the ball from Bowling Green.
“They were getting up more shot attempts because we were giving them extra possessions,” Whitaker said. “If you give up extra possessions, it takes away from our shot attempts and our ability to get some more points. We have to take care of the ball.”
NKU graduate student guard Lindsey Duvall led the Norse with 16 points as eight different Norse scored. Senior guard Ivy Turner made all eight free throws on her way to 15 points, and sophomore guard Khamari Mitchell-Steen added 12 points to go with five rebounds and two blocked shots. Sophomore guard Kailee Davis scored nine points and dished out five assists as Bowling Green struggled with the quickness of the Norse guards.
Graduate student forward/center Emmy Souder grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds.
The Falcons also saw eight different player score. Senior guard Elissa Brett scored near her average with 16 points. Senior forward Allison Day scored 10 points in the first quarter but the Norse limited her to five points in the final three quarters.
“I think the biggest adjustment is we just had to make (Day’s) catches tough,” Souder said. “Before, we were letting her get the ball too easy. We couldn’t let her touch the ball to begin with. Then when she did catch it, we would be crowding her off other people.”
Northern Kentucky led briefly in the first quarter at 6-4 after a Duvall score. But Bowling Green used a 5-0 lead to go up for the rest of the quarter. Junior forward Sophie Dziekan hit a fastbreak layup for Bowling Green with 3:49 left to give the Falcons a 17-11 lead prompting the Norse to call a timeout.
Northern Kentucky led 27-17 after the first quarter. But the Norse fought back to trim the lead to 38-36 at halftime when senior forward Tayah Irvin scored in the final second of the half.
The Norse took a brief 45-42 lead with 7:01 left in the third quarter when Duvall hit a three-pointer. But Brett and Velasco hit three-pointers to give the Falcons the lead for good. Northern Kentucky cut the lead to one at 55-54 after a Mitchell-Steen three with 2:49 left in the third quarter, but came no closer after that.
Northern Kentucky finishes November with another Mid-American Conference team Monday when the University of Akron Zips (3-1) come to Truist Arena on Monday. Game time is 7 p.m.