The Northern Kentucky women’s basketball team played in its first home game of the season on Tuesday and it was a warm welcome as it defeated the Youngstown State Penguins on a buzzer beater 66-64.
After a long four game road trip to open the season, the Norse (1-4) came home to the Bank of Kentucky Center and got a big performance from freshman Christine Roush, who scored 24 points and snagged eight rebounds. Tiara Hopper added 11 points and Ellen Holton and Kayla Thacker contributed nine and eight respectively.
The Penguins (4-1) got a big performance from Brandi Brown, who set the tone of the game by scoring the first two of her 21 points. It would be nearly three minutes before another score, but the Norse got a 3-pointer from Thacker and a layup by Hopper to take a 5-2 lead.
The two teams went back and forth until the Norse pushed ahead to a 14 point lead. Roush made five straight points and then Rianna Gayheart knocked down a 3-pointer for the 22-8 lead.
Holton made the last field goal of the half for the Norse, but it came at the 5:43 mark. This allowed YSU to go on a 12-0 run in the final five minutes capped a layup by Brown to tie the game at 31. The Norse would take a 32-31 lead into halftime as Thacker made a free throw with a minute less.
A pair of jumpers by Roush and Hopper pushed the lead to five to open the half, but the Penguins took their first lead since early in the first half as Liz Hornberger knocked down a 3-pointer for the 39-38 lead.
That lead was short lived as Roush responded with a 3-pointer of her own. Heidi Schlegel tied the game at 41 with a pair of free throws. The teams would go back and forth until the Penguins pushed ahead for an eight point lead with 3:33 left in the game.
Roush started the rally with a jumper to cut the lead to six and then a Hopper free throw made it a five point game. The score would stay that way until 32 seconds left when Holton made a layup to make it 63-60.
YSU sent Monica Touvelle in for a substitution to take the ball on a foul. The Norse fouled Touvelle, an 80 percent free-throw shooter in her career, but she missed both shots to keep the lead at three. Roush then scored with just 18 seconds left to make it 63-62.
Brown made the second of two free throws to make it 64-62 with 16 seconds remaining. The Norse came down the court and Thacker let go of a jumper just inside the 3-point line to tie the game at 64-64 with two seconds left.
The Penguins would make a costly mistake as they turned the ball over without any time running off the clock to give the Norse the ball underneath their own basket. Melody Doss took the in-bounds and avoided a charging call to knock down the game winning shot as time expired.
The Norse will head back to the road as they travel to Springfield, Mo., on Saturday to take on the Missouri State Bears with tipoff set 2:00 P.M.