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March 09, 2002

Eagles fall to Norse in regional finals

#10 Northern Kentucky University (26-6): 69
#4 University of Southern Indiana (27-6): 66

The fourth-ranked University of Southern Indiana womenís basketball team fell one win short in its bid for a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight as it lost to 10th-ranked Northern Kentucky University, 69-66, tonight in the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Championship at the Physical Activities Center in Evansville, Indiana.

The Screaming Eagles shot 27.3 percent in the first half as they found themselves down by as many as 11 points. USI fought back to with in five at the break (29-24).

USI picked up its offensive output in the second stanza as it connected on half of its 32 shots. However, NKUís 57.7 percent shooting from the field in the second period kept the Norse ahead throughout the half.

The Eagles, down by six late in the game, got a three-pointer from sophomore guard Erin Wall (New Albany, Indiana) and a quick bucket from senior forward Casey Hughes (Bicknell, Indiana) as they cut the NKU lead to one (61-60).

NKUís Suzie Smith answered USIís run with a three-pointer of her own to give the Norse a 64-60 lead. The Eagles fired a pass down to sophomore forward Jessica Stuckman (Quincy, Illinois) but the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player could not hold onto the ball as she came crashing down to the floor.

The Norse extended their lead to 66-60 and a pair of free throws by tournament Most Outstanding Player Michelle Cottrell put NKU ahead by eight.

Still, the Eagles found a way to fight back as they narrowed the lead to two points. A missed free throw by Cottrell on a two-shot foul gave the Eagles a chance to tie the game with 13 seconds remaining.

USIís senior guard Jasmine Moore (Chicago, Illinois) brought the ball up the court and dished it to Wall, who had connected on three shots from behind the arc earlier in the contest. Wall took an off-balanced shot at the buzzer that clanked off the front of the rim, ending USIís quest for a second consecutive trip to Rochester, Minnesota.

Stuckman led the Eagles with 14 points and nine rebounds while Wall added three free throws to go along with her three three-pointers as she finished with 12 points.

Cottrell led all-scorers with 31 points while Smith added 12 points to NKUís scoring attack.

The Norse (26-6) advance to the NCAA II Elite Eight where they will face South Dakota State University.

The Eagles finish their season with a 27-6 record, giving them the third most victories in school history.

The Great Lakes Region All-Tournament team included Cottrell, Stuckman, Moore, Hillsdaleís Stephanie Heid, and Northern Michiganís Marisa DellAngelo.

Dan McDonnell,
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