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Thacker leads NKU women past Robert Morris

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WKRC) -- Kayla Thacker scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds to lead the Northern Kentucky University women's basketball team to a 71-62 victory over Robert Morris in the first game of the RMU Thanksgiving Classic at the Charles L. Sewall Center on Friday afternoon.

Thacker, who scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, finished 3-for-6 from behind the 3-point arc and went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line.  She also collected two steals and blocked one shot to help NKU improve to 3-3.

Rianna Gayheart added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Norse, while Melody Doss finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Robert Morris (3-2) used a 20-6 run to turn an 8-5 deficit into a 25-14 advantage with 9:40 remaining in the first half. NKU then used a 13-2 spurt of its own, led by Gayheart's six points, to even the game at 27-all with 4:15 left in the half.

Kaitlyn Gerrety hit a 3-point field goal less than a minute later to regain the lead for NKU at 30-27 lead, and Doss later drained a trey to give the Norse a 38-29 advantage at the break.

NKU shot 50 percent (11-for-22) from the field in the first half and 6-for-13 (.462) from behind the 3-point arc.  The Norse forced Robert Morris into 11 turnovers, including seven during NKU's 23-4 run to end the half.

Robert Morris opened the second half with a 14-5 run behind seven Artemis Spanou points for the fourth tie of the game at 43-all with 14:45 remaining, but Gayheart's 3-pointer regained the lead for NKU.  The two teams traded leads until the Norse used a 10-0 spurt to push their advantage to 66-57 with 1:27 left to play.

The taller Colonials, who feature the nation's leading rebounder in Spanou, finished with a 34-31 edge on the glass but committed 19 turnovers, which the Norse capitalized on by scoring 20 points off the miscues.  NKU's bench also outscored Robert Morris' reserves, 22-9.

"Our guards did a very good job of rebounding," NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.  "We have to do everything perfectly.  We're not bigger than anyone, and we're not more athletic than everyone, so everything we do has to be picture perfect and clean.  I thought our kids really showed some poise.  I'm very happy for them because we've played some very good teams and we are trying to figure out how we are at our best, and our kids have been really good to each other.  I think it's good for us to have a tough schedule, and it feels a lot better when you win."

Christine Roush finished with nine points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor for the Norse on the day, which saw six ties and 10 lead changes.

Spanou scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to lead the Colonials.  Ashley Ravelli collected 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting from 3-point range, and Kelly Hartwell added 10 points.  Janee Brown 10 finished with 10 assists on the day for Robert Morris.

NKU concludes the two-day, round-robin tournament tomorrow against Tennessee-Martin at 1:30 p.m.  Links to live stats and audio will be available at

Image and information courtesy NKU Athletics




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