Alumni came back to Highland Heights hoping to enjoy the festivities and some Northern Kentucky Norse basketball.
But both Northern Kentucky basketball teams lost by the minimal one point in Horizon League play Saturday. The men lost at Truist Arena and the women lost on the road.
Milwaukee 75, Northern Kentucky men 74
The Norse (14-9) built a 23-point lead on the Panthers (15-7) in the first half. But Milwaukee outscored Northern Kentucky, 48-27 in the second half to escape with the win, sweeping the series and grabbing a share of the Horizon League lead with Northern Kentucky at 9-3.
The Norse led 47-27 at halftime making 17 of 33 shots in the first half for 52 percent including 6 of 15 three-point tries for 40 percent and 7 of 9 free throws for 78 percent. Those numbers fell to 10 of 37 for 27 percent in the second half including just 2 of 18 from three-point range for 11 percent. For the game, Northern Kentucky made 12 of 15 free throws for 80 percent.
“I thought we played about as good as we have all year in the first half and about as bad as we have all year in the second half,” said Darin Horn, Northern Kentucky head coach. “I hate it for our fans on Homecoming. I thought it was a tremendous crowd. We had some former players back in the building. Bottom line is give Milwaukee credit. They really came back and battled in the second half, didn’t do anything special, just were ultra aggressive, especially driving the basketball. The difference in the game ultimately was the free throw line. They got to the free throw line so much because we stopped guarding the ball.”
Milwaukee took its first lead at 64-62 with 7:14 left in the game. The Panthers led 75-70 with 26 seconds left before fifth-year forward Chris Brandon hit a layup with 12 seconds left and Marques Warrick stole a pass and laid it in making the final score.
The Norse then received it back when junior guard Trey Robinson forced the jump ball. After inbounding the ball successfully the second time, fifth-year guard Trevon Faulkner missed a three. But Faulkner grabbed the rebound and missed the ensuring shot.
There appeared to be two fouls against Northern Kentucky on the play. But the Norse did not receive the calls allowing Milwaukee to escape with the win.
“I didn’t really see that part of it,” Horn said. “They’re probably not calling that in that situation anyway. The coach in me would say we don’t need to be in that situation.”
It marked the first time Northern Kentucky has seen five players reach double figures. Brandon had a double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds and Robinson tied that effort with 18. Sophomore guard Sam Vinson, Warrick and Faulkner followed with 12, 11 and 10 respectively.
The Panthers saw 11 different players score led by 23 from guard BJ Freeman who made all 17 free-throw attempts. The Norse had just six players score.
The Milwaukee bench outscored Northern Kentucky’s 34-10 and made 27 of 32 free throws fir 84 percent. The Panthers made 22 of 51 shots for 43 percent including 4 of 15 from three-point range for 27 percent.
The Norse travel to Robert Morris (10-12) on Thursday for a 7 p.m. game.
Youngstown State 52, Northern Kentucky women 51
The Norse (13-8) trailed the majority of the game. But Northern Kentucky took the lead on the Penguins (16-5) twice in the game’s final 27 seconds including 51-50 with 15 seconds when sophomore guard Kailee Davis hit a jumper on the left side.
But with 2.3 seconds left, Youngstown State drew a foul setting a screen and Paige Shy made both free throws to give the Penguins the win. A half-court heave did not go in for the Norse.
The Norse remain in fifth place in the Horizon League at 7-5 in league play. With the season sweep, Youngstown State remains tied for first with Cleveland State at 10-2.
Davis finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists for the Norse. Graduate post Emmy Souder scored 11 points to go with eight rebounds and one assist and graduate student Lindsey Duvall had eight points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Junior guard Kennedy Igo gave the Norse a boost off the bench with 10 points and four rebounds.
Northern Kentucky made 22 of 64 shots for 34 percent including just 2 of 13 from three-point range for 15 percent and 5 of 6 free throws for 83 percent. Youngstown State made 21 of 59 shots for 36 percent including 5 of 22 from three-point range for 23 percent. Lilly Ritz led the Penguins with 12 points.
The Norse travel to Wright State (3-19) on Thursday for a 6 p.m. game.