Norse men smack Titans at home, 79-67

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Photo by Larry Wical

Warrick becomes NKU all-time scoring king

The Detroit Mercy Titans (0-26, 0-15 HL) visited Truist Arena Saturday for an early evening rumble with the Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball team, with hopes of snagging their first win of the season and breaking the nation’s longest losing streak.

The Norse had other plans in mind.

The Norse (13-12, 8-6 HL) used Saturday’s matchup to kill two birds with one stone, prolonging the Titans’ futility streak to the tune of a home 79-67 win, while also setting the scene for the school’s all-tie scoring record to be broken.

Senior guard Marques Warrick (Lexington, KY) lit the scoreboard up for 22 points en route to breaking the record previously held by Drew McDonald – the new record is now 2,069 points…and counting.  Warrick, who also holds the all-time scoring record at basketball-rich Lexington Henry Clay HS, shattered the record with six games left to play in the regular season.

By halftime Warrick had 10 points on the board and was on pace to break the record before the final buzzer.  There was some subtle pressure to pour in the final 10 points in the second half, as this game was his last opportunity to break the record at home in front of his friends and family before the Norse pack their bags for a two-game road trip to Green Bay (Feb. 14) and Milwaukee (Feb. 17).

With 4:35 left in the game and the Norse up 62-49, Warrick received a pass out on the right corner behind the arc and let the ball fly, only to get hacked hard on his shooting arm by sophomore guard Marcus Tankersley.  Needing three points to break the scoring record and being awarded three charity tosses on the trey set up what can only be described as a serendipitous scenario.

Photo by Larry Wical

Warrick calmly stepped up to the line, gave the ball a couple dribbles, locked in on his target just above the rim and, as he has for four seasons in Highland Heights, smoothly let the ball fly. 

Swish…

Swish..

Swish.

The senior lefty shot the ball just the way you would expect a player with a career 83% free throw-shooting percentage would.  Smooth, effortless, repeatable and most importantly…on the mark with little doubt.

Warrick is about as low key and humble as any elite college athlete you’ll ever meet, so there was no overabundance of emotion or spectacular display of celebration during the game.  After the game was a different story.  Warrick celebrated with his family, teammates and coaches away from the big crowds. 

Then came the post-game press conference, where he quietly told his personal story of spending his whole basketball career battling long odds, being counted out, pushed to the side and being largely ignored during the recruitment process.  Despite his unmistakable talent and consistent production on the court, he was told by all the “big schools” he was too short and too slight of build to handle the rigors of high level Division I basketball.

Fast-forward to this past off-season after three years of blistering numbers for winning teams at NKU…Norse Head Coach Darrin Horn said recently Warrick could have signed on one of many dotted lines pushed in front of him to play at Power 5 programs looking for a seasoned D-I player like “Ques.” 

But Warrick chose loyalty, he chose to reward the team and coach that gave him the best opportunity possible, by sticking it out in Highland Heights and finishing what he started when he signed at NKU four years ago. 

With the Norse a game above .500 at 13-12 overall and coming off two straight wins, they are now sitting in a tie for fifth place with Cleveland State in the Horizon League at 8-6.  With the win over Detroit Mercy, the Norse gained a spot in the standings. 

Now, Warrick and the Norse have six games left to climb up into fourth place where they would receive a coveted top-four seed in the end-of-season tournament…the higher the seed, the higher likelihood of returning to the conference championship game.  And that is where Warrick would have a chance to finish what he started – win another conference title for the Norse, return to the NCAA Tournament, and bring home the program’s first ever post-season win.

But for now, Warrick and his teammates are focused on one battle at a time.  Take the bus to Wisconsin.  Ground the conference-leading Phoenix on their own home court.  Slay the Panthers in Milwaukee. Pick up two more wins and focus on shoving two of the teams above them out of their way in the standings. 

Saturday night, he was not alone.  While he was breaking the all-time scoring record against the Titans, multiple teammates continued to flourish. 

Graduate point guard Michael Bradley netted 16 points and six assists – sophomore forward LJ Wells logged a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards – senior wing Trey Robinson posted another double-digit scoring effort with 10 points to go along with six boards and three assists – with junior post Cade Meyer no longer with the team, sophomore post Keeyan Itejere continues to play 30+ minutes per game and scored eight points while dragging down nine boards – and freshman guard Randy Pettus II made his presence known with eight points, three boards and four steals in 22 minutes of play.

Warrick is accustomed to being underestimated, and time is ticking for the Norse. With the scoring record behind him and his teammates continuing to heat up going into the final chapter of the regular season, the young man they call “Ques” is hungry for more and ready to help his team to another banner. 

Next Up:

Feb. 14 @ Green Bay – 7:00pm EST (ESPN+ / ESPN 1530 Radio)

Feb. 17 @ Milwaukee – 8:00pm EST (ESPN+ / FoxSports 1360 Radio)

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