HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The Stetson men’s basketball team struggled from start to finish on the road at Northern Kentucky Thursday, falling 96-58 to the Norse at the Bank of Kentucky Center. Even with the loss, the Hatters earned a spot in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament due to play around the league.
The Norse (9-20, 5-12 A-Sun) came out on fire racing out to a 28-12 lead midway through the first half. Stetson couldn’t keep pace as NKU extended its lead to as many as 33 points before settling into a 57-28 advantage at the break.
“I don’t think we came out with any energy,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said after the game. “They were able to make shots any way they wanted to and we didn’t put up any resistance. I was disappointed in our effort. It’s one thing to lose a basketball game, but you have to have the effort.”
NKU shot 55.9 percent from the floor and a blistering 58.3 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. On top of that, the Norse went 12-of-13 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes of play, while turning the ball over just once.
The second half wasn’t much different for the Hatters (7-22, 5-12 A-Sun), who continued to shoot poorly while allowing the Norse to do whatever they wanted. NKU led by as much as 42 in the second period before coasting to the 96-58 victory.
Stetson shot just 38.2 percent from the floor for the game, and a measly 13.3 percent from beyond the arc. The Hatters were able to get to the free throw line, but only converted on 46.7 percent of their 30 attempts at the stripe.
NKU’s 96 points marked a Division I era school record for the Norse. It was the most points Stetson has allowed in a game this season.
Cole Murray led five Northern Kentucky players in double figures, totaling 17 on 5-of-6 from long distance. Jalen Billups and Tyler White each scored 14 points, while Jordan Jackson went for 13 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Dean Danos chipped in with 10.
Stetson was paced by senior Hunter Miller, who scored 11 points in 33 minutes. Junior Kyle Sikora racked up a career high 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor, and led the Hatters with seven rebounds.
Moments after Stetson’s loss, Jacksonville defeated Kennesaw State to eliminate the Owls from A-Sun Tournament contention. The Hatters secured the eight seed in next week’s league championships, and will play either Florida Gulf Coast or Mercer in the first round.
“The opportunity is still there. That’s the great thing about basketball,” Williams said of Stetson clinching an A-Sun Tournament berth. “But if we don’t have a take-it mentality, we’ll be going through the motions and we will only play one game.”
Stetson finished regular season play on Saturday at Lipscomb. The Hatters and the Bisons are scheduled to tip-off at 11:00 a.m. ET and 10:00 a.m. local time in Nashville on ESPN3.