SAN DIEGO – With less than a minute remaining in Saturday night’s game against Siena (N.Y.), Northern Kentucky University owned a 52-50 lead, and the Norse appeared to be on theverge of getting their first win as a Division I program.
That’s when things really turned ugly for NKU, which watched as Siena scored the game’s final six points to pull out a 56-52 victory in the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Rakeem Brookins netted four of the final six points for theSaints, including an 18-foot jumper with 3.9 seconds remaining that gave Siena a 54-52 lead.
Brookins started the winning rally by drawing a foul with 36 seconds left and knocking down two free throws to tie the score at 52-all. Siena then applied pressure in the backcourt, caused a turnover and called a timeout with 27.8 seconds remaining.
After running the clock down, Brookins launched an 18-footer from the left corner that found the bottom of the net with 3.9 seconds left to put Siena up by a 54-52 score. That’s when it really started to get interesting for NKU.
After an NKU timeout, Siena – with just five team fouls – was instructed to foul before the Norse could get off a shot. Just before NKU’s Chad Jackson could attempt a 3-pointer – a shot that went in – Siena’s Evan Hymes fouled the Norse junior guard with 1.2 seconds left on the clock. The shot was waved off, giving NKU possession on the sideline with a chance to tie or win with a 3-pointer.
A technical foul was called on NKU head coach Dave Bezold, however, and Hymes hit a pair of free throws to extend Siena’s lead to 56-52. The Norse’s Eshaunte Jones then missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Siena backed off with a four-point lead.
Jones led NKU (0-3) with 18 points. The senior guard scored 13 points in the second half, including a trio of 3-pointers. Senior guard Ethan Faulkner added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Norse, who shot 35.8 percent from the field.
Hymes led Siena (2-2) with 22 points, while Brookins finished with 13. Siena post player O.D. Anosike added 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Saints were 9-for-20 from 3-point range and won despite shooting 50 percent (9-for-18) from the free-throw line.
NKU concludes play in the season-opening National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation Challenge Sunday by meeting Cal State Northridge (5-0) at 6:30 p.m.