Using just six players with injuries up and down the lineup, the Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball team earned their first win of the season over Marshall.
Out were starters Kailee Davis and Kennedy Igo while Khamari Mitchell-Steen, Macey Blevins and Noelle Hubert logged all 40 minutes in the contest. Carter McCray was the difference maker in the 76-66 victory, recording a monster game of 25 points and 21 rebounds.
Marshall certainly had fresher legs with 12 different players entering the game, but Northern Kentucky used a 22-10 second quarter run and stayed out of foul trouble on its way to victory over Marshall at Truist Arena on Saturday. Both teams are 1-2 on the season.
“I thought we had a really good crowd. The people here were energetic,” said Camryn Whitaker-Volz, Northern Kentucky head coach. “Fans don’t realize how valuable that is. Sometimes we go on the road and there is like 200 people there and it’s like, ‘Man, we’re in practice here. It’s just nice to see our fans here, to be at home and to be able to pull out a huge win.”
McCray hit 12-of-23 shots as Northern Kentucky outscored Marshall, 48-32 in points in the paint. Mitchell-Steen made things happen attacking the rim on her way to 15 points and nine assists with Blevins and Hubert giving the Norse outside shooting with 16 and 11 points, respectively. Hubert hit three 3-pointers and Blevins two. Despite using just one bench player to the Thundering Herd’s seven, NKU outscored Marshall 6-3 in bench points, thanks to Allison Basye making all three of her shots.
Northern Kentucky won the rebounding battle, 51-39. Hubert and Razzano had seven each to follow McCray. Both teams had 11 second-chance points.
“We just tried to execute our game plan even when we were tired,” McCray said. “We knew that they were going to get up on our guards and pressure us so we took advantage of the post play. Then defensively, we knew they were drivers so we just stayed in the gaps, making them take threes.”
The Norse shot well from the field, hitting 53% including 50% from 3-point range. NKU struggled from the charity stripe, hitting on just 11-of-21 attempts. Marshall struggled from the field, hitting 31% and just 9-of-46 from three. They got to the line just nine times, making seven attempts.
NKU struggled with 26 turnovers compared to Marshall’s 17. Marshall outscored Northern Kentucky, 22-13 in points off turnovers.
“I was just proud of how we prepared all week,” Volz said. “When you only have eight players in practice, it’s really tough to prepare for that kind of pressure. We didn’t care so much about the turnovers. Are they going to be live-ball turnovers? I was telling the team all week, ‘Just throw it out of bounds’ so we can at least get our defense set up. I thought we did that for the most part.”
But the Norse made up for them with 19 assists to 15 for Marshall. Hubert and Blevins followed Mitchell-Steen with three each.
“I tried to remain positive the whole game even if I made a mistake or someone else made a mistake,” Mitchell-Steen said. “If everyone becomes negative, we’re always going to fall out and not be together as a team. That actually helped with the trapping and everything going on.”
Abby Beeman led the Thundering Herd with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds. Roshala Scott made five three-pointers on her way to 17 points and Mahogany Matthews scored 12.
Northern Kentucky led 16-15 after the first quarter. But the Norse finished the second quarter with a 12-0 run to go up 38-25 at halftime. McCray scored twice in the paint to start the run and Hubert made a triple with 32 seconds left in the first half to finish it.
Northern Kentucky extended the lead to 18 at 45-27 with 8:41 left in the third quarter after a Blevins triple. Marshall cut it to 11 three times before trimming it to 58-48 entering the fourth quarter.
The Norse put the Thundering Herd away in the fourth quarter, building the lead to 20 at 72-52 with five minutes left in the game after a Basye jumper.
Northern Kentucky heads to Daytona Beach, Florida for two games over the Thanksgiving Break. The Norse play the University of Pittsburgh on Friday at 3:30 p.m.