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NKU falls to Mercer, 74-58
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (WKRC) -- Senior guard Langston Hall scored 20 points and dished out five assists Thursday night as Mercer posted a 74-58 win over Northern Kentucky in The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Bud Thomas added 16 points and three assists for Mercer, which improved to 14-5 overall, 5-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bears, who snapped the Norse's home winning streak at five, closed the first half with a 21-4 run to take a 38-23 lead into the break.
Hall scored 11 points before halftime to lead Mercer, which shot 58.3 percent from the field during the opening 20 minutes. The Bears led by as many as 20 points in the second half and finished at 54 percent from the field in front of a crowd of 2,782.
"They just have so much size and experience, and they have already beaten some very good basketball teams," Norse head coach Dave Bezold said. "We started out fine and had a lead for a while, but Hall is an outstanding point guard and does so much for Mercer. We've had to live all year on penetrating to the basket, and they really nullified Jordan Jackson and a couple of our other guys with their length and size when they tried to attack the basket."
Mercer held Jackson to six points, all in the first half. Jackson entered Thursday averaging 15 points per contest and had scored in double figure five straight games.
Tyler White netted 13 points to lead Northern Kentucky, which is 7-12 overall, 3-4 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. White was 6-for-13 from the field and added two steals.
"I hit the shots that were open when I got them," White said. "Coach kept stressing that we had to move the ball and cut harder, so when I got my open shots, the majority of them came from cutting hard and coming off ball screens and being aggressive."
Todd Johnson finished with eight points and five rebounds, while Cole Murray and Jake Giesler each scored six. The Norse shot 42 percent from the field and were 9-for-25 from 3-point range.
"Mercer could be this year's Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA Tournament," Bezold said. "They have everything you need to win games in the NCAA Tournament, and they do a great job with screens and running their offense."
Northern Kentucky is now 63-14 all-time in The Bank of Kentucky Center. The Norse are 5-3 at home this season.
Northern Kentucky and Mercer split two games last season, with the home team winning by identical 63-46 scores. The Bears are 2-1 all-time against the Norse, and Bezold gave Mercer the ultimate compliment after Thursday's game.
"I think they were harder to guard than North Carolina or Kentucky," Bezold said of Mercer. "They may not be as athletic, but the way they screen and move, and they're so well schooled because they've played together for so long. They just understand where each other will be on the floor. They've got probably the best player in the conference at point guard in Hall, and when you have a point guard that's the best player in the conference, he's going to get you places.
"Hall does a tremendous job not only scoring but distributing and running the club. He has tremendous size that allows him to play very calmly and get things done for his teammates. And with their size, they have a lot of room for error."
Northern Kentucky plays host to Kennesaw State at 7 p.m. Saturday.
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