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Thacker paces NKU women over Lipscomb

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRC) -- Kayla Thacker scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds as the Northern Kentucky University women's basketball team held off a late Lipscomb rally for a 61-57 victory in Allen Arena on Saturday to ensure the program's 31st consecutive winning season.

Thacker finished 9-for-13 from the floor and knocked down three shots from long range to lead NKU, which improved to 15-10 overall and 11-3 in the Atlantic Sun Conference.  The senior guard from Mt. Washington, Ky., topped her previous best of 23, which she also achieved against Lipscomb on Feb. 9, 2013.

"I thought Kayla was a big factor in this game for us on both ends of the court," NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.  "When we got into foul trouble, she had to defend inside.  Prior to that, she was defending their leading scorer and doing a pretty good job on her.  Offensively, she stepped up and she got some key rebounds for us.  Kayla played extremely well."

NKU held a 30-18 advantage at the halftime break, but Lipscomb scored the first three points of the second half to cut its deficit to single digits at 30-21 less than two minutes into the half.  A quick 7-0 run by NKU gave the Norse their largest lead of the game at 37-21 with 16:49 remaining in the game, capped by a Christine Roush layup.

The Lady Bisons slowly chipped away at the Norse advantage and cut the NKU lead to 45-43 after a 13-4 run, led by four straight points from Ashley Southern, with 7:38 left on the clock.

Kelley Wiegman, the reigning Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week, answered with back-to-back layups to push the score to 49-43, and Christine Roush drained a 3-pointer for a 52-43 lead at the 6:04 mark.  Lauren White forced a turnover on the other end of the court and hit a jumper to regain a double digit lead (54-43) less than a minute later.

Lipscomb used a press to force five NKU turnovers, and the Lady Bisons scored eight consecutive points to pull to within 54-51 with exactly two minutes left on the clock.  Thacker pulled down a rebound on the defensive end and connected on one of two free throws to stretch the Norse advantage to 55-51 with 42 seconds remaining.

White extended the NKU lead to six (57-51) with two free throws, but Southern knocked down a 3-pointer to bring Lipscomb to within 57-54 with just 33 seconds on the clock.

Thacker's layup on the other end of the court pushed the Norse lead to 59-54, and Southern responded with a conventional 3-point play on the other end of the court for a 59-57 NKU advantage with six seconds remaining.

White sealed the victory by converting on two attempts from the charity stripe for the final margin of the game.

"I thought this was a very big win for us, and for our kids to go on the road and compete with a very good team was important," Plitzuweit said.  "Lipscomb is a team that is really on fire right now and a team that can score in a multitude of ways.  We feel really fortunate to get this win today.  We talk a lot about finding a way to win, and I thought defined what we did tonight."

Roush added nine points, four rebounds and three steals for NKU, while Wiegman finished with nine points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor and three assists.  White scored eight points and Kaitlyn Gerrety chipped in six points, eight rebounds and three assists.

The Norse shot 46.2 percent from the floor after going 12-for-26 from the floor in each half and finished with a 33-29 advantage in rebounds to improve to 8-1 on the year when outrebounding the opponent.  NKU forced 19 turnovers and scored 23 points off those miscues.

Southern, the reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Week, recorded her 20th double-double of the season with 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead Lipscomb.  Chandler Copper knocked down three 3-pointers en route to 11 points, while Danay Fothergill finished with 10 points and three assists.

Lipscomb, which fell to 5-20 overall and 2-12 in the Atlantic Sun, connected on 54.5 percent (12-for-22) of its attempts from the field to finish at 39.6 percent for the game.

NKU takes to the road for the final time of the regular season next week as the Norse face Stetson in DeLand, Fla., on Thursday at 7 p.m.  NKU will conclude the road swing against Florida Gulf Coast at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.  Links to live stats, video and Andrew Kappes' audio broadcast will be available at nkunorse.com.

Image and information provided by NKU Athletics

 

 

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