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McDonald’s last-second 3-pointer gives NKU 64-63 win over Oakland in Horizon League semifinals

NKyTribune staff

DETROIT — Drew McDonald’s 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining lifted Northern Kentucky University to a 64-63 victory over Oakland in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals on Monday night.

Jaevin Cumberland had made two free throws with 9.1 seconds left on the clock to give Oakland a 63-61 lead. NKU’s Jalen Tate then brought the ball up the floor quickly and found an open McDonald, who drilled a 3-pointer from out front.

“We didn’t just say, ‘Go for the win,’” NKU head coach John Brannen said. “We said let’s put the ball in our playmaker’s hands and let him make the right read. Jalen did exactly that. We slipped out of it exactly like we told Drew to do. If two go with you, throw it back. If not, get downhill. If somebody helps, kick it. Just make the right decision and we’ll live the result.”

Drew McDonald

No. 2 seed NKU improved to 25-8 and will meet top-seeded Wright State (21-12) in the championship game at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Norse and Raiders shared the Horizon League regular-season title.

McDonald finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for NKU, which owned a 61-50 lead with less than four minutes remaining. Cumberland, though, drained a pair of 3-pointers to ignite a 13-0 run during the next three minutes as Oakland stormed from behind to take a 63-61 advantage.

Cumberland finished with 27 points and made seven 3-pointers. The third-seeded Golden Grizzlies (16-17) led by as many as 17 points (28-11) in the first half as Cumberland poured in 16 points.

NKU rallied behind the play of Tyler Sharpe (10 points in the first half) to even the score at 37-37 at intermission. Tate and Dantez Walton each netted eight points in the first half for the Norse.

Tate finished with 14 points and five assists for NKU, which shot 39.4 percent from the field. The Norse’s Chris Vogt chipped in eight points and seven rebounds.

(Information compiled from the Horizon League and staff reports)

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