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NKU women top Mercer, 72-61
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (WKRC) -- Melody Doss scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Northern Kentucky University women's basketball team to a 72-61 victory over Mercer in Atlantic Sun Conference play at The Bank of Kentucky Center on Thursday night.
Doss, who earned her fourth conference Player of the Week honor of the season Monday, equaled her career high with five blocked shots as the Norse improved to 7-7 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the Atlantic Sun. She added four assists and connected on each of her six attempts from the free-throw line.
"I'm just focused in on what we need to for our next opponent and how I can do whatever it takes to get a win," Doss said of her success on the court this season. "That's really my main focus every game."
The 6-foot forward from Greenwood, Ind., led five NKU players in double figures. Christine Roush poured in 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor, while Kayla Thacker scored 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Lauren White finished with 12 points and six rebounds, and Kelley Wiegman added 10 points and a game-high five assists for the Norse. The last time NKU got 10 or more points from five different players was in a 76-71 overtime victory over Jacksonville on March 2, 2013.
"I thought this was a very good win for our program," NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. "I thought our kids played incredibly hard, and I thought we were fortunate enough to beat a very good team at home. Mercer is very tough to defend; they score quickly, have multiple kids who can score, are well coached and do a lot of good things. We feel really fortunate to come out on top tonight."
NKU closed the first half with a 12-3 run to turn a 27-26 deficit into a 38-30 lead at halftime. Wiegman sparked the run with a 3-point basket to regain the lead for the Norse, and a conventional 3-point play by Roush pushed the advantage to five (32-27) with 3:06 remaining in the half.
Sharnea Boykin cut the score to 32-30 with a trey, but Doss responded with six straight points to end the opening stanza.
Roush pushed the NKU lead to 40-30 with a jumper to start the second half, but Mercer (8-6 overall, 1-2 in the Atlantic Sun) answered with five consecutive points to come to within five at 40-35 with 15:53 left to play. The Norse later broke the game open with a 17-2 run for their largest lead of the game, holding a 63-45 advantage at the 6:43 mark.
The Bears cut the NKU lead to 11 three times, including the last time on a layup by Teanna Robinson with four seconds left to play, but were unable to get any closer.
NKU finished with a 40-35 edge in rebounds to improve to 4-0 on the year when outrebounding the opponent and collected seven blocked shots on the night.
Precious Bridges scored 15 of her team-high 17 points in the second half to lead Mercer. The Norse defense limited Bridges to just one field goal in her first nine attempts.
Boykin added 14 points for the Bears and dished out three assists to enter the Atlantic Sun's top 10 career assists list, while Robinson grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and finished with four points.
With the win, NKU gained a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with Mercer and has won the last two contests between the two teams. The Norse, who have won three consecutive games since breaking for the holidays, improved to 6-0 when scoring 70 points or more.
"I thought our players came back after Christmas and were very hungry," Plitzuweit said. "They were very attentive to details and really increased the urgency that they play with. It shows on the defensive end, which helps us get some scoring opportunities, so I give them the credit. I think they have picked up a little bit of intensity, and at the same time they've picked up a little bit of an understanding. We've played a very, very good non-conference schedule, so each of the games we played, whether we won or lost, our players looked at how they could get better for the next opportunity."
Image and information provided by NKU Athletics