The NKU Lady Norse opened their 2023-24 regular season on Monday evening with a heartbreaking overtime loss to Indiana State 85-82 at Truist Arena.
The Norse were led by senior Kennedy Igo who scored 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting and a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc. Kamari Mitchell-Steen added 16 points with most coming from the foul line (10-13 FT). Transfer Macey Blevins chipped in 14 before fouling out midway through the second half.
Most notable was the play of freshman Carter McCray – the first-year starter tallied 13 points and pulled down a game high 10 rebounds. Norse head coach Camryn Volz was excited to see McCray’s production; “We are really excited about Carter. Carter is a polished freshman, but she ended up playing a lot more minutes than we anticipated tonight.”
NKU shot 48.2% (27-56) from the field for the game and 40.0% (8-20) from behind the arc but left a lot of points behind going 20-of-32 from the free-throw line.
NKU trailed 21-18 at the end of the first quarter after trailing by as many as eight points. The Norse ramped up their defensive effort to start the second quarter, forcing a couple early turnovers to go on a 7-0 run. The excitement was short lived as point guard Kailee Davis went down with an apparent ankle injury and was lost for the remainder of the game leaving the NKU coaching staff to shuffle lineups.
Indiana State’s length caused issues for NKU in the first half, turning the Norse over fourteen times, resulting in an 11-6 advantage in points off turnovers and a 35-30 lead heading to halftime.
Volz felt the Sycamore’s length played a part in disrupting her team’s flow of the game but felt that a lot of it came down to things that were in their own control; “It did affect us a little bit, but just in the rebounding. I think a lot of it is still in our control. The things we can control would have eliminated that such as taking care of the basketball.”
The second half saw the Norse come out hot hitting 9-of-14 shots to outscore the Sycamores 26-22 and trail 57-56 headed to the final quarter.
NKU would push ahead in the fourth quarter taking a 5-point lead with 5:09 remaining in the game only to see ISU quickly erase the lead after the Norse failed to convert on four straight free throw opportunities. Each team traded baskets towards the end of regulation with the Norse having an opportunity to win it, but they could not get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.
The overtime session saw the Norse go cold from the field, making only 1-of-7 shots, while allowing ISU to go 4-for-10 along with a pair of free throws for a Sycamore 3-point lead. NKU once again had a chance to send the game to a second overtime but could not manage to get off a shot as the game ended.
When asked to assess her team’s performance Volz spoke plainly; “We played really hard and we are facing a ton of adversity right now, but there are no excuses at the end of the day. We need to continue to grow and learn. This team will be just fine.”