NKU punches ticket to NCAA tourney, beats Wright St. 77-66

DETROIT (AP) - Dantez Walton had 15 points and 14 rebounds for his first double-double, leading second-seeded Northern Kentucky to a 77-66 win Tuesday night over top-seeded Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament final and into the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.

The Norse (26-8) had control of the entire game with four starters and a reserve scoring in double figures. Jalen Tate scored 17 points, Zaynah Robinson had 15 points off the bench, Horizon League player of the year and tournament MVP Drew McDonald had 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Tyler Sharpe added 11 points.

The Raiders (21-13) struggled to score, making it difficult to come back in a game they trailed for nearly 39 minutes.

All-Horizon League player Loudon Love was 2 of 13 and scored nine points, reserve Bill Wampler had 16 points and Mark Hughes and Cole Gentry each scored 15 points for Wright State, which shot 37.5 percent.

The Raiders scored first and didn't lead again in a matchup of teams that shared the regular-season title after each team won by four points on its home court.

Early on, it didn't look like the series-breaker was going to be closely contested.

The Norse led by 18 points with 5:02 left in the first half, and Gentry made a 3-pointer from about 30 feet to cut the Raiders' deficit to 44-34 at halftime. Northern Kentucky went on an 11-3 run midway through the second half to lead by 19 points and coasted to victory.


Northern Kentucky: Balanced scoring and ball movement led to eight players making assists and six players making shots in the first half. The team is sound defensively, too, and may be able to compete with a highly seeded team in the NCAA Tournament.

Wright State: With a chance to earn consecutive NCAA Tournament bids for the first time in school history, the Raiders simply could not make enough shots inside or beyond the 3-point arc to have a chance to win.


Northern Kentucky: The team might be seeded 15th as it was two years ago when it lost to second-seeded Kentucky by nine points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Next season, the deep team should contend for the Horizon title even without McDonald and Robinson.