by Sean Mackey
The NKU Norse won a thriller at Truist Arena Thursday evening where they took on the visiting Cleveland State Vikings. They were looking to keep up the momentum after their 21 point win over Green Bay last Saturday as Cleveland St. was coming off a win over Fort Wayne. Both entered the contest 11-8.
During the first half, NKU went out of the gates cashing in on some home court momentum to take an early 7 point lead. However, Cleveland St. turned up the defense fast and racked up 10 steals in just the first 7 minutes. Tate Williams of Cleveland St. threw down a nasty slam on a fast break which looked to shake NKU’s confidence. CSU went up 6 points and the Norse didn’t score for almost 8 minutes. Towards the end of the half, Marques Warrick hit 2 threes to tie the game. At the end of the first half, the Norse lead 27-25 despite 11 steals by CSU and being outrebounded by 4.
The second half was about as grindy as it gets. For the first 7 minutes NKU had only 5 points. Shots were not falling on either side of the court. However, the last 2 minutes of the game was a complete shootout. While down 43-41, Sam Vinson scored 7 straight points to give NKU the lead. 2 late game fouls gave CSU a 55-52 lead with 12.7 seconds left. Both teams exchanged 2 sets of free throws which gave CSU a 56-54 lead. With 7 seconds left, Warrick hit a buzzer beating three to beat the Vikings 57-56 on what was his 21st birthday.
NKU Coach, Darrin Horn said after the game “The people got their money’s worth tonight”. When Warrick was asked about his game winning shot said “I fumbled the ball but still made the three....probably my best birthday ever.”
NKU improved to 12-8 this season. They next play Fort Wayne this Saturday at Truist Arena. The game can be viewed on ESPN+ at 6pm.