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NKU places six players in double figures, rolls to 95-73 win at Detroit Mercy on Saturday

NKyTribune staff

DETROIT — What happens when the top scorer in the Horizon League goes up against one of the toughest defenders in the nation? That question was answered Saturday afternoon when Detroit Mercy hosted Northern Kentucky University in Calihan Hall.

And the result is probably not what you expect.

NKU shot 57.1 percent from the field and ran Detroit Mercy out of its own gym with a 95-73 victory. Detroit Mercy scoring machine Antoine Davis — averaging 26.9 points per game going into Saturday — netted 33 points, but the Norse countered with a balanced attack that featured six players in double figures.

NKU’s Jalen Tate finished with 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals on Saturday. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Detroit Mercy employed a 2-3 zone defense, but NKU consistently knocked down the open looks. The Norse buried 12 of 27 attempts from 3-point range, including eight treys in the second half.

Drew McDonald led NKU with 23 points, and Tyler Sharpe added 20 points for the Norse. Sharpe tied a career high by draining five 3-pointers against the Detroit Mercy zone.

“I told our guys this would be the most challenging game we will see all year because we were facing a zone defense with just one day to prepare,” NKU head coach John Brannen said. “I thought our tenacity was outstanding, and we made shots against the zone. Our guys moved the ball extremely well, found the open man and knocked down the open looks.”

Jalen Tate finished with 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals for the Norse, who improved to 13-4 overall, 3-1 in the Horizon League. Teammates Dantez Walton (13 points), Zaynah Robinson (12) and Trevon Faulkner (10) also netted double figures. NKU tied a season high with 23 assists against the zone defense.

“I thought our team effort defensively against a great player like Davis was outstanding,” Brannen said. “It all goes back to defense. You are not going to stop an elite scorer like Davis, but you try to make it hard for him to get his points. Our guys executed the game plan, and it’s a great win.”

Davis finished 13-for-24 from the field and was 3-for-9 from 3-point range. Tate — one of the nation’s top defenders — and several Norse teammates contained Davis, who had poured in 48 points against Wright State two nights earlier. Detroit Mercy dropped to 6-10 overall, 3-1 in the Horizon League.

McDonald added five rebounds and three assists for NKU, which is 6-1 all-time against Detroit Mercy. The Norse have defeated the Titans five straight times.

Derrien King scored 14 points for Detroit Mercy, which shot 42.6 percent from the field. Willy Isiani — making his season debut for the Titans on Saturday — chipped in nine points for Detroit Mercy.

NKU plays host to Wright State at 7 p.m. Friday at BB&T Arena.

(Information compiled from NKU Athletics Communications and staff reports)

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