Norse Pick Up 10th Horizon League Victory over Vikings 75-73

(Photo by Ryan Luster)

As the Horizon League season winds down, The Northern Kentucky Norse are trying to avoid starting the Conference Tournament on the road for the the first time since coming to the conference. On Thursday night at Truist Arena, NKU was able to overcome the Cleveland State Vikings to take one step closer to avoiding that exact fate.


The Vikings got off to a quick start in this game holding a 21-10 lead halfway through the first half. Like every team in the conference, the Norse struggled to find ways to stop Tristan Enaruna who had 12 of those 21 for his team. Shortly after Dylan Arnett got a nice layup to give Cleveland State the 29-16 edge, NKU stepped up and took over ending the half on a 17-4 run to tie the game at 33 going into the half. The Norse got big play through the half from Marques Warrick with 12 points but it was Trey Robinson scoring the last seven points of the half, all off of assists from Warrick.


LJ Wells started the second half scoring with a basket followed by Keeyan Itejere trying to get the Norse to build momentum to run away with the game, but Cleveland State wasn't going anywhere. Tae Williams put his stamp on the game with 5 striaght points for Cleveland State which was then followed by another Arnett field goal giving the Vikings the 40-37 lead.


NKU followed the Arnett bucket with a 6-0 scoring run before Clevleland State scoring nine unanswered points in response. With 8:44 remaining in the game Jalin Rice hit a big 3 giving the Vikings the 58-51 advantage looking like they were getting ready to put the game away before the Norse decided they weren't going to take it anymore and took over the game.


After the Norse lost Keeyan Itejere to injury, LJ Wells stepped up for the Norse with a huge second half leading to a 17 points, seven rebound performance including huge plays down the stretch. With 2:18 remaining Well knocked down two free throws giving NKU a five point advantage, but Cleveland State kept coming back when Enaruna hit free throws on his end to bring the score to 73-71 with 2:12 left in the contest. Just 30 seconds left, Wells found himself at the line once again, and hit the two free-throws that would end up putting the game out of reach giving the Norse a much needed victory.


This victory breaks puts Northern Kentucky in sole position of 5th place in the Horizon League after coming into Wednesday's game tied with their opponents, Cleveland State and Milwaukee. The Norse are now a game behind Youngstown State and Wright State who are both 11-6 in the conference.


Up next, the Norse host IUPUI Sunday afternoon at Truist Arena. Tip-Off will be at 2 PM est, NKU already has a win over the Jaguars to open the Horizon league on December 2nd when they won 71-55.

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