Facing its second-straight Horizon League leading opponent in less than 48 hours, Green Bay went toe to toe on the road with Northern Kentucky on Saturday night, before coming up short 86-80 at BB&T Arena. The Phoenix (10-18, 5-10 HL) knocked down a season-high 13 3-pointers, but the Norse (19-7, 12-2 HL) got 38 points in the paint and finished 19-for-20 from the free throw line to move into sole possession atop the league standings.
After going into the half down by 10, Green Bay was able to make eight of its 15 3-point attempts in the second half, led by Sandy Cohen’s 14 points and three made 3s. Cohen finished the game with 18 points and seven rebounds, two nights after scoring 21 points at Wright State. He even banked one in from the top of the key late in the game as GB tried to steal the road win.
GB was able to get within three at 77-74 with 3:28 left after Kameron Hankerson buried his only made 3 of the night. NKU was quick to answer though, as Tyler Sharpe came down on the other end and answered with his own make from beyond the arc to push the lead back to six. Sharpe led NKU in scoring with 19 points on five made 3s.
The Norse was able to keep a two-possession lead the rest of the game, anchored by its 19 made free throws. NKU didn’t miss its first free throw until there were only nine seconds left in the game, with the result nearly finalized.
Senior Khalil Small continued his strong season, leading all scorers in the game with 20 points. Small went 9-for-10 at the free throw line and dished out four assists. GB finished 17-for-22 (77.3 percent) as a team from the charity stripe.
NKU opened up with a strong 12-2 lead to start the game, but it was the Phoenix’s run to end the first half and open the second that put them in line for an upset bid. David Jesperson hit a 3-pointer with the clock winding down on the first half, and opened up the second half the same way with another made 3. GB was able to run off 10-straight points and cut into the Norse lead.
The Phoenix took its first lead of the game on a made 3-pointer from TJ Parham with 11:00 left in the game, gaining the small 63-62 advantage. Parham netted a career-high 16 points on four made 3s, playing extended minutes with the absence of freshman forward Manny Patterson. Patterson missed his first game of the season, after suffering an upper-body injury in Thursday’s game at Wright State.
Parham would hit another 3 with 9:45 left to give his team the lead back. NKU then scored the next four points and would hold onto the lead for good.
Hankerson also finished in double-figures with 10 points. The sophomore doled out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds, starting in place of the injured Patterson.
The 13 made 3s are the most Green Bay has made in a game since it poured in 14 against Wright State last year on Jan. 12 at the Resch Center.
The Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Drew McDonald tallied another double-double for the Norse, scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. NKU outrebounded GB 43-31 in the game.
The Phoenix will now return to Green Bay, where it will play its next home game at the Kress Center on campus. GB will face UIC on Friday (Feb. 16) for an 8 p.m. tip time for Krash the Kress.
It will also be Senior Night for Green Bay’s David Jesperson and Khalil Small, who will be recognized before the game.