NKU stuns Ky. Wesleyan in OT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Tony Rack’s 3-pointer as time expired gave Northern Kentucky a 76-74 victory against Kentucky Wesleyan in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament on Saturday night.
Trailing 74-73 with 8.3 seconds remaining, NKU called a timeout at midcourt. The Norse put the ball in the hands of Malcolm Eleby, who drove into the lane and found Rack open on the right wing.
Rack buried the 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, giving NKU (21-8) the win and setting up a clash against top-seeded Bellarmine in Sunday’s Midwest Regional semifinals at 7:30 p.m.
NKU rallied from an 18-point deficit (47-29) in the second half behind the play of Eleby and Josh Tabb. Tabb capped a 16-2 NKU run with a basket that cut the Kentucky Wesleyan lead to 49-45 with 13:09 remaining.
Corey Sorrell’s conventional three-point play with 9:56 left tied the score at 52-all. The Norse eventually gained a 61-60 lead when Eleby made a pair of free throws with 5:42 remaining, and NKU later built a 65-62 edge with 2:04 left on the clock.
A pair of turnovers, however, allowed Kentucky Wesleyan to regain the lead. Kwan Waller’s basket with 49 seconds remaining cut the NKU lead to 65-64, and, after another NKU turnover, Cardell McFarland scored while being fouled to give the Panthers a 66-65 advantage with 15.1 seconds left.
McFarland hit the free throw to extend the Kentucky Wesleyan lead to 67-65. Tabb, however, scored on a short jumper with four seconds left to tie the game at 67-all. NKU stole the Kentucky Wesleyan inbounds pass, but Dennis Gagai’s 3-point attempt was off the mark at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
Eleby and Tabb both finished with 23 points and eight rebounds as NKU avenged a 91-89 overtime setback to Kentucky Wesleyan in last week’s Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament at St. Louis, Mo. The Norse shot 43.1 percent from the field and won despite a 13-for-23 performance at the free-throw line.
McFarland and Anthony Young both scored 17 points to lead Kentucky Wesleyan, which finished the season 19-10. NKU defeated the Panthers three times in four meetings this season.
Kentucky Wesleyan still owns a 45-33 edge in the all-time series against NKU.