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McDonald joins 1,000-point club, NKU sprints past in-state rival Morehead State, 86-49, at BB&T Arena

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By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

All wins have redeeming qualities, but victories against in-state rivals are a little extra special.

That’s why Northern Kentucky University’s 86-49 triumph against visiting Morehead State on Saturday night was sweeter than the normal victory. The Norse (6-2) blistered the nets for 59.3 percent shooting from the field — including 72 percent in the second — and sprinted past the Eagles in front of a raucous crowd of 4,064 at BB&T Arena.

But what really made the evening significant was the performance of NKU junior forward Drew McDonald, who scored 11 consecutive points at the beginning of the second half to singlehandedly extinguish any thoughts of a Morehead State comeback. He finished with a game-high 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and added three assists.

NKU’s Drew McDonald drives against Morehead State on Saturday night. (Chloe Smith/NKU)

McDonald also became the 26th member of NKU’s 1,000-point club when he buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key off an assist from Jordan Garnett at the 18:43 mark. The Newport Central Catholic product drained a trio of 3-pointers during his second-half spurt that extended a 38-28 Norse lead at intermission to 49-28 with 17:41 remaining on the clock.

“Drew carried us early in that second half, and it’s pretty impressive for him to reach 1,000 points this early in his junior year,” NKU head coach John Brannen said. “Best of all, he was able to reach that milestone in front of an outstanding crowd. Great win, and an amazing crowd that really helped us.”

Joining McDonald in double figures for NKU were Lavone Holland II (17 points), Carson Williams (13), Jalen Tate (10) and Jeff Garrett (10). The Norse were 12-for-20 from 3-point range, including 8-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc in the second half.

“Jeff Garrett did some great things, and I need him to be locked in each day because we’re better when he plays like this,” Brannen said, noting Garrett’s seven rebounds and two blocks. “Our second-half shooting was outstanding. We passed the ball very well, found the open man, and finished the plays.”

Djimon Henson scored 15 points to lead Morehead State, which dropped to 2-6. The Eagles were fortunate to still be in the game at halftime as NKU made just 35.3 percent (6-for-17) of its free throws before the break.

NKU’s Lavone Holland II shoots against Morehead State on Saturday night. NKU won, 86-49. (Chloe Smith/NKU)

Holland II provided the first-half highlight for NKU when he lost control of the ball while making a move off the dribble. The senior guard retrieved the loose ball just before going out of bounds and launched a prayer from the deep left corner.

The ball found the bottom of the net for a 3-pointer, giving NKU a 38-28 lead with 44 seconds left on the clock. Instead of a turnover, Holland II demoralized Morehead State with the shot and perhaps earned himself a spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays segment.

Morehead State owns a 7-3 advantage in the all-times series with NKU, but the Norse have won three of the past four games with the Eagles. McDonald also haunted Morehead State a year ago by pouring in 32 points during NKU’s 84-79 victory over the Eagles.

NKU hits the road for Johnson City, Tenn., on Wednesday night to meet East Tennessee State at 7 p.m.

UNIQUE CLUB: McDonald now has 1,007 career points and joined his mother, former Norse women’s basketball standout Christie McDonald (nee Freppon), as part of a unique mother/son duo at NKU. She also graduated from NewCath and finished her NKU career with 1,339 points.

NKU already featured a father/son duo in the 1,000-point club with Jeff Stowers (1,410) and his son Brenden Stowers (1,311 points), both former Norse men’s basketball standouts.

TMC WOMEN NOTCH ROAD WIN: Senior guard Abby Owings scored a game-high 21 points to lead Thomas More College to an 89-46 victory at Bethany (W.Va.) College on Saturday afternoon.

Owings buried five 3-pointers and dished out three assists as Thomas More improved to 6-1 overall, 3-0 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. The Saints jumped out to a 52-29 halftime advantage as Owings netted 15 points before the break.

Thomas More limited Bethany (1-5, 1-1 PAC) to just 27.3 percent shooting from the field and forced the Bison into 24 turnovers. The Saints shot 54.5 percent from the field, including 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from 3-point range.

Madison Temple scored 15 points for the Saints, who are ranked No. 10 nationally in the NCAA Division III poll. Temple also dished out a team-leading six assists and added three blocked shots.

Brianna McNutt added 12 points for Thomas More, while teammate Taylor Jolly chipped in 11 points. The Saints have not lost to a PAC opponent since Jan. 14, 2012, when Saint Vincent College pulled out a 68-65 victory in Latrobe, Pa.

The NCAA forced Thomas More to vacate every win during the 2014-15 season due to an eligibility issue, wiping out 20 victories against PAC schools.

Thomas More returns to action Tuesday night with a road game at the University of Pikeville. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center.

WEYER LEADS BELLARMINE: Newport Central Catholic graduate Ben Weyer poured in 19 points Saturday afternoon to lead Bellarmine to a 78-59 win over Lewis at Knights Hall in Louisville.

Weyer finished 7-of-12 from the field, including a trio of 3-pointers, as the unbeaten Knights (7-0) opened Great Lakes Valley Conference play with a victory. Bellarmine shot 52.8 percent from the field and buried 12 shots from 3-point range.

Nick Norton led Lewis (2-6 overall, 0-2 GLVC) with 14 points.

Contact Don Owen at don@nkytrib.com

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