HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Youngstown State is no longer unbeaten, Northern Kentucky has its first victory as a Division I program and Melody Doss is suddenly the answer to a trivia question that will long be remembered by Norse basketball fans.
And don’t forget Christine Roush’s name, either, for the perfect inbounds pass that set Doss up for the winning basket.
Doss’ layup just before the buzzer sounded gave NKU an improbable 66-64 win over Youngstown State on Tuesday night. The shot capped an incredible late-game sequence of heroics as the Norse (1-4) rallied from an eight-point deficit (63-55) with 3:31 remaining to stun the previously unbeaten Penguins.
“The last play we ran to win the game, Melody was saying ‘look for me,’ and I was hoping the pass was there,” Roush said of the final play. “It was, and I got it there, and she made the shot. It was probably the most important assist in my life.”
Youngstown State (4-1) still owned a 63-60 lead with 32 seconds left on the clock after an Ellen Holton layup, but two missed free throws by Monica Touvelle and a basket by Roush made it 63-62.
Then, it really became crazy.
Brandi Brown made one of two free throws to extend the Youngstown State lead to 64-62 with 16 seconds left. Kayla Thacker then nailed an off-balance 18-footer from the left wing to tie the game at 64-all with 1.7 seconds remaining.
Liz Hornberger then turned the ball over trying to inbound the ball, giving NKU possession underneath its own basket. That set the stage for Doss, who took a perfect inbounds pass from Roush in the lane and converted a shot as time expired.
As the NKU players and coaches began to celebrate, the officials headed to the scorer’s table to review the instant replay. Several minutes later, the basket was officially counted (Doss actually released the ball with 0.7 seconds on the clock) and NKU had its first-ever Division I win.
“The out-of-bounds play was open all game,” Doss said. “It was open (on the last play), and we stuck it. It was definitely exciting.”
Roush scored a career-high 24 points to lead NKU. The freshman guard also grabbed eight rebounds and was 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Doss scored six points and hauled in eight rebounds. She also blocked three shots.
Tiara Hopper added 11 points for NKU, which shot 45.6 percent from the field. The Norse were 8-for-21 from 3-point range and won their home opener for the eighth consecutive year.
Brown led Youngstown State with 21 points and 15 rebounds. The Penguins shot just 36.2 percent from the field and missed three crucial free throws in the final 30 seconds.
"I thought our kids did a good job of trying to keep them at bay, and keep them away from the rim,” NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “We remained patient at the end of the game; I thought we had some good looks at the end of the game. We were a little fortunate because they missed some free throws down the stretch.”
NKU is now 53-7 all-time in The Bank of Kentucky Center. The Norse were 13-1 at home lastseason.
Holton finished with nine points and seven rebounds, while Thacker added eight points and four assists. Rianna Gayheart buried a pair of 3-pointers to finish with six points.
“Some of it is that things fell into our lap at home, and at the same time, I thought our kids competed,” Plitzuweit said. “They could’ve quit at the two-minute mark. We were down, and they didn’t, so I was really proud of the kids.”
NKU hits the road this weekend by traveling to Springfield, Mo., to meet Missouri State on Saturday. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m. (EST) at JQH Arena.