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NKU makes it three straight with a win over Navy

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (WKRC) -- A balanced scoring attack and a crucial 3-pointer by Tyler White in the final minute helped Northern Kentucky rally for a 72-65 victory over Navy on Saturday.

Jalen Billups and Todd Johnson each scored 16 points to lead Northern Kentucky (4-7), which extended its winning streak to three. White and Jordan Jackson added 11 points apiece for the Norse, who rallied from a 55-48 deficit with less than nine minutes remaining in the game.

Billups began Northern Kentucky's decisive spurt with a conventional three-point play to cut the Navy lead to 55-51. Jackson followed with two straight baskets, and White buried a 3-pointer to even the score at 58-all.

After Worth Smith made a pair of free throws to give Navy a 60-58 lead, Johnson drained a 3-pointer that put the Norse on top, 61-60, with 4:53 left. Northern Kentucky owned a 64-62 advantage with less than two minutes remaining, and Jackson drove into the lane and attempted a runner. His shot rimmed out, but Billups followed with a resounding dunk off the offensive rebound to extend the Norse advantage to 66-62 with 1:35 remaining.

A 3-pointer by Smith with 1:08 cut the Norse lead to 66-65, but White countered by burying a trey from the right side with just 30 seconds left on the clock. Johnson made two free throws with 17 seconds remaining to seal the win for Northern Kentucky, which shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half to rally from a 29-23 deficit at intermission. Navy, in fact, led by as many as 11 points before halftime.

"It says a great deal about our guys that they rallied from another double-digit deficit," Norse head coach Dave Bezold said. "They don't give up, and they find a way to win. Jalen was a force inside in the second half and made big plays. Todd Johnson and Tyler White also hit some clutch 3-pointers."

Billups grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and was 6-for-8 from the field. Johnson made four shots from 3-point range and tied his career high with 16 points. Jackson dished out five assists and collected a pair of steals.

"It was very physical inside, but I like it that way," Billups said. "Navy plays tough defense, but we found a way to battle back and pull out a big win."

Brandon Venturini scored 20 points to lead Navy, which is 5-5. The Midshipmen shot 48.9 percent from the field, including 59.1 percent in the second half. Smith finished with 15 points for Navy.

The Norse are now 61-13 all-time in The Bank of Kentucky Center, including 3-2 this season. Northern Kentucky is 2-0 all-time against Navy.

Northern Kentucky will visit Chapel Hill, N.C., to meet nationally ranked North Carolina on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. That game will also be televised nationally on ESPNU.

Image and information courtesy of NKU Athletics




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