March 14, 2009

Courtesy of Lake Superior State Athletics

FINDLAY, Ohio - Look out Syracuse and UConn. Division II can pack plenty of drama into the playoffs. 

It didn't quite go the distance of Syracuse's six-overtime victory over UConn during Thursday's Big East Tournament quarterfinal game, but the Lake Superior State men's basketball team went to double overtime before upsetting No. 3 seed Northern Kentucky 75-72 Saturday during the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.

LSSU (22-8), making only the second NCAA Tournament appearance in Laker men's basketball history, advanced to the semifinal game at 5 p.m. Sunday at the University of Findlay. The Lakers will play the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal game between No. 2 seed Bellarmine and No. 7 seed Kentucky Wesleyan. The game will be broadcast live on WSOO 1230 AM.

From Tim VanOudheusden's eye injury to overcoming scoring droughts and missed free throws, and making big shots, every period of the LSSU-NKU showdown had a different storyline. Northern Kentucky's Dennis Gagai, who hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Norse a 35-30 halftime lead, started the second overtime with three-pointer for a 68-65 NKU lead. VanOudheusden answered to keep the Lakers within one point and prevent Northern Kentucky (24-7) from gaining momentum.

Laker freshman Kyle Hunt rebounded back-to-back NKU misses midway through the second overtime, and LSSU's Ryan Kuhl scored on both possessions. Kuhl drew a foul on his second field goal and made the free throw for a 72-68 Laker lead with 2:27 remaining. Gagai, who led Northern Kentucky scorers with 20 points, made two free throws with 1:41 remaining. After an LSSU miss and NKU turnover, Hunt went to the line and made one of two free throws for a 73-70 Laker lead with 45 seconds to go.

The Norse missed a three-point attempt with 15 seconds left, but retained possession. NKU's DeAaron Williams made two free throws with five seconds to go, cutting LSSU's lead to 73-72.

After a timeout, LSSU hurled a long pass to Scott Perkins, who was fouled and made two free throws with three seconds left. The Lakers forced a loose ball, which prevented the Norse from attempting a game-tying shot.

Kuhl scored a career-high 31 points and had eight rebounds to lead the Lakers. VanOudheusden, who missed most of the first half with an eye injury, scored eight points during the first 6:24 of the second half and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Mike Rader, who helped keep LSSU in contention while VanOudheusden was on the bench, finished with eight points. Morse was in foul trouble throughout the game and scored seven points. Garrett Konuszewski and Perkins added six points each.

Morse, who fouled out with 4:02 remaining in the first overtime, made two free throws late in the second half to help the Lakers overcome a four-minute scoring drought. Perkins also made two free throws at 2:15 remaining in regulation, tying the game 56-56. Hunt had a steal at the 1:37 mark, and Perkins grabbed a defensive rebound as NKU failed to score during the final 2:28 of the second half.

The first overtime started with a three-pointer by Konuszewski, but NKU's Dustin Maguire and Billy Finnell hit back-to-back three-pointers to bring the Norse back from a four-point deficit. Kuhl made a layup with 31 seconds left to tie it, 65-65.

Williams totaled 17 points and eight rebounds, and Maguire had 13 points for Northern Kentucky.