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January 08, 2009

Eagles fall to top-ranked Norse,
First-half drought proves difference maker

#1 Northern Kentucky (12-0, 4-0 GLVC): 62
at Southern Indiana (8-6, 1-4 GLVC): 48
Box Score

EVANSVILLE, Ind.The University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team fell to No. 1 Northern Kentucky University, 62-48, Thursday evening at the Physical Activities Center.

USI (8-6, 1-4 GLVC) fought the defending national champions point-for-point throughout the first 11 minutes of the contest and for a good portion of the second period, but a scoreless drought that lasted the final 8:24 of the first half allowed the visiting Norse to turn a 17-17 tie into a 30-17 halftime edge.

Northern Kentucky (12-0, 4-0 GLVC) extended its lead to as many as 19 points early in the second half, but the Screaming Eagles battled back, cutting the Norse lead to 12 late in the contest.

"The last 15 minutes was a heck of a game," Head Coach Rick Stein said. "Our effort and intensity was good and I thought we fought, but we just struggled to make some baskets at the end of the first half and that was the difference in the game.

"There are a lot of positives that can be taken from this because we played good basketball, really for the last 20 minutes," Stein said. "We had some decent looks at the basket, but we just couldn't top them off. Every mistake you make, the number one team in the country is going to make you pay."

Amie Newhart

USI, which shot just 29.4 percent from the field, had three players finish in double digits. Sophomore guard Amie Newhart (Mulberry, Indiana) led the Eagles with 12 points, while fellow classmates Ellen Young (Salem, Illinois) and Lauren Meneghetti (Munster, Indiana) added 10 points each.

Senior guard Jessie Slack and senior center Cassie Brannen led the Norse with 16 points apiece to give NKU Head Coach Nancy Winstel her 599th career victory.

"I thought Slack really hurt us," Stein said. "Whenever they needed something, she stepped up and made some tough baskets for them. That's what seniors do. When we were making runs, she was a dagger each time."

The Eagles, who ended their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record, return to action Saturday when they travel to Louisville, Kentucky, to take on Bellarmine University. Tip-off is slated for 4:45 p.m. (CST).

Dan McDonnell,
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