By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – An incredibly, well-fought battle went in favor of Northern Kentucky Sunday afternoon, as the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team (3-4) fell to the Norse (3-4) in double overtime at Truist Arena by a final score of 85-77.
The two sides fought back and forth early in the opening stanza, each using 10-0 runs over the opening 10 minutes to establish their own leads. After NKU's string of 10 straight, Tech responded with a 13-2 mark to move back on top for good.
The Golden Eagles delivered stingy defense in the first half, limiting NKU to just 27 points on 35.7 percent shooting. Tech also out-rebounded the Norse 20-12 while hitting a red-hot 8-of-13 attempts from downtown.
Northern Kentucky's Marques Warrick scored 13 of the team's first 16 points of the second half, cutting the Tech lead to as little as three. The Golden Eagles kept out front with a balanced attack, while the Norse star continued to lift his team on his back, eventually tying the ball game at 51-51.
Tech's Erik Oliver immediately converted a step-back 3-pointer for the answer, moving the visitors back in front with under eight minutes to play. With 1:22 on the clock, the purple and gold increased the lead to five after a pair of freebies by Jaylen Sebree.
With 15 seconds in the game and the Golden Eagles clinging to a 63-61 advantage, Tech guard Jayvis Harvey was called for a foul while boxing out for a rebound on NKU's end of the court. The referees went to the video monitor to review the call and changed the outcome to a flagrant-one foul, resulting in a pair of free throws and the ball back to the Norse.
The home team converted both, but missed a last-second jumper from beyond the arc, sending the contest to overtime. NKU jumped ahead immediately, boasting as much as a five-point lead with 2:31 to go in the extra period, but the Golden Eagles stayed resilient and kept with the mission.
After hauling in a critical offensive board on a missed free throw, Sebree found the ball once again in the corner and buried a massive trey to pull the Cookeville crew within a score. Forward Daniel Ramsey secured a clutch rebound on the other side of the court and less than 20 seconds later, delivered the game-tying, two-handed slam.
The Norse called timeout with 17 seconds left in overtime and managed a pair of looks to win the game, but Tech's defense stayed with it and provided another chance with a second period of extra time. NKU went unconscious in the second overtime, making all five of its attempts from the field, including a 4-for-4 showing from distance, and both free throws to claim the eight-point victory.
Tech shot a remarkable 52.2 percent from deep on the day, but a 9-for-16 effort at the charity stripe was a critical factor down the stretch, with four straight misses over the final 20 seconds of regulation and both overtime periods. The Golden Eagles also won the battle of the boards, 40-36.
Thompson led the Tech effort with a season-high 19 points and added six rebounds to the mix. Sebree collected his second double-double of the year with 15 points and a team-high 10 boards. Junior guard Jayvis Harvey chipped in 10 points and four assists off the bench.
Northern Kentucky's Marques Warrick boasted a career day, finishing with an eye-popping 45 points on 18-for-31 shooting and a 5-for-10 performance from beyond the arc. Chris Brandon led the game with 19 rebounds to go along with six points and four steals.
The Golden Eagles will return to Cookeville for an in-state battle with Chattanooga Wednesday evening. Tip is set for 6:00 p.m. CT in the Hooper Eblen Center.
Photo by Thomas Corhern