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Robinson drains clutch 3-pointers in OT, NKU pulls out 88-85 win at Northern Illinois

NKyTribune staff

DeKALB, Ill. — Zaynah Robinson obviously enjoys working overtime, and Northern Kentucky University is grateful the Norfolk State transfer guard thrives in those extra minutes.

After going scoreless during regulation Friday night against Northern Illinois, Robinson buried a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute of the first overtime to force another extra period. He then scored the first three points of the second overtime and NKU held on for an 88-85 victory at the NIU Convocation Center.

“Zaynah is going to be really good, and we’re going to continue to have faith in him,” NKU head coach John Brannen said of Robinson, who netted 13 points in the overtimes. “He’s a guy who has to feel completely comfortable before he attacks.

NKU’s Zaynah Robinson scored 13 points in overtime. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

“It shows his character. As poorly as he played in regulation, to come out and make those plays in overtime, it speaks as to who he is as a young man. I hugged him when we walked off the court, and I’m extremely proud of him.”

NKU (2-0) trailed 73-67 late in the first overtime, but Robinson hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 73-all with 43 seconds remaining. Levi Bradley put the Huskies ahead 75-73 with 24 seconds to play, but Drew McDonald responded with a layup to tie the game at 75-all with 15 seconds remaining to force a second overtime.

Robinson scored the first three points of the second overtime and Dantez Walton followed with a huge 3-pointer as NKU pushed ahead 81-75. Walton added another 3-pointer with 1:37 left to extend the Norse advantage to 84-77.

With 4.4 seconds remaining and NKU holding an 86-85 lead, Robinson knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Norse an 88-85 cushion. Northern Illinois’ midcourt heave was off target as the buzzer sounded, and NKU escaped with the road victory.

McDonald collected a double-double with a game-high 28 points and 14 rebounds. The Newport Central Catholic product buried a trio of 3-pointers to ignite a 14-0 run in second half that turned a 39-28 deficit into a 42-39 NKU lead.

Tyler Sharpe added 16 points, four rebounds, two steals and an assist for NKU. Walton just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Jalen Tate finished with seven points and seven assists.

NKU won despite making just 51.9 percent (14-for-27) of its free throws. The Norse were 30-of-61 (49.2 percent) from the floor and shot 14-of-33 from 3-point range.

Northern Illinois (1-1) made 40.8 percent of its field goals. NKU held the Huskies to just 6-of-23 (26.1 percent) shooting from 3-point range.

Bradley led the Huskies with 25 points, and teammate Dante Thorpe — who had been suspended for the season opener against Rockford after being charged with retail theft on Oct. 24 — added 24 points.

It marked the first double-overtime game for NKU since since March 14, 2009, when Lake Superior State defeated the Norse, 75-72, in the NCAA Division II Tournament. NKU is now 12-3 all-time in double-overtime games.

NKU will play host to Wabash College at 6 p.m. Sunday at BB&T Arena. Wabash is an NCAA Division III program that finished 12-14 last season.

NKU 88, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 85 (2 OT)
NKU (2-0)
Drew McDonald 10-19 4-7 28; Dantez Walton 6-10 0-0 16; Bryant Mocaby 0-1 0-0 0; Adrian Nelson 0-0 0-0 0; Tyler Sharpe 5-15 3-5 16; Zaynah Robinson 3-7 5-10 13; Chris Vogt 2-2 1-2 5; Jalen Tate 3-6 1-2 7; Trevon Faulkner 0-0 0-0 0; Silas Adheke 1-1 0-0 3; Paul Djoko 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 30-61 14-27 88.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (1-1)
Jalen Key 1-6 4-4 6; Levi Bradley 9-18 6-7 25; Alize Travis 0-1 1-2 1; Rod Henry-Hayes 1-2 0-0 3; Anastasios Demogerontas 0-3 1-2 1; Zaire Mateen 2-3 0-0 6; Dante Thorpe 10-22 3-5 24; Noah McCarty 1-7 0-0 2; Austin Richie 0-1 0-0 0; Gairges Daow 2-4 0-0 5; Lacey James 5-9 2-3 12. Totals 31-76 17-23 85.

NKU………….   27   38  10 13—  88
N.Illinois ……….35   30 10 10—  85

(Information compiled from NKU Athletics Communications and staff reports)

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