Williams' Big Night Leads NKU Past Cleveland State
Freshman Carson Williams netted a career-high 22 points on Thursday while Drew McDonald scored each of Northern Kentucky's final 11 points as the Norse men's basketball team defeated Cleveland State 62-60 in the final seconds at the Wolstein Center.
Northern Kentucky has now won four games in a row and six of its last seven. It improves to 18-9 overall and 9-5 in the Horizon League. The Vikings dip to 8-19 (4-11 Horizon).
• Williams led all players with his career-best 22 points, which included 12 first-half points. His new career mark came as he shot 10-for-14 from the field and pulled down six rebounds.
• McDonald posted the game's only double-double with 13 rebounds and 13 total points, 11 of which came in the final seven minutes of play. Ten of his 13 points came from the free-throw line as the sophomore went 10-for-13 from the charity stripe.
• McDonald also posted a career-high five assists.
• Mason Faulkner tied his career-high mark of five assists and also posted five rebounds, all on the defensive glass.
• Cole Murray added eight points and four rebounds.
• With 2:33 remaining in the game, Cleveland State took its first lead since the opening minutes. A Demonte Flannigan layup put the Vikings ahead, 58-56.
• A clutch triple from McDonald – who scored each of NKU's final 11 points – restored Northern Kentucky's lead at 59-58 with 1:24 on the clock.
• A pair of CSU free throws gave the Vikings a one-point edge with 57 seconds remaining.
• McDonald again put the Norse back in control, this time with a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left. He gave NKU a 61-60 lead.
• McDonald sank the final point of the game, another free throw, as CSU failed to connect on a last-second attempt from behind the arc.
FIRST HALF SUMMARY
• Four of NKU's first six field goals were 3-pointers - each from a different player - pushing the Norse lead to 16-10 with 11:15 left in the period.
• The Vikings cut the NKU lead to 18-16 with 8:54 to go, but the Norse scored six-straight, including back-to-back layups from Williams, to pull back ahead, 24-16.
• Cleveland State came back within three with 5:05 to play in the first, but a Lavone Holland II triple and pair of Murray free throws restored NKU's eight point advantage.
• The Norse led by at least six throughout the remainder of the half, holding a 33-27 edge at the intermission.
• Northern Kentucky held the Vikings to 30.0 percent from the floor (9-of-30) in the first period while the Norse connected on 12 of 28 attempts for 42.9 percent.
SECOND HALF SUMMARY
• Williams netted six more points within the first three minutes of the second half. His trio of early layups combined with a Faulkner triple extended NKU's lead to 42-30 with 17:28 on the clock.
• NKU's lead hovered around the double-digit mark until seven-straight from the Vikings cut the Norse lead to four, 48-44, with 11:55 remaining.
The Vikings would stay within six points of NKU for the final 12 minutes of play, trimming the deficit down to one, 51-50, with just over seven minutes to go.
• Four free throws from McDonald gave the Norse a five-point cushion, just enough to withstand back-to-back scoring possessions from the Vikings who again cut the Norse lead back down to one with five minutes remaining.
• While CSU fought for the lead throughout the final possessions, McDonald's 11 points across the last seven minutes helped NKU answer back and seal the win.
• NKU dished out an assist on 16 of its 20 field goals. McDonald and Faulkner combined for 10 of NKU's 16 dimes while Jordan Garnett posted three of his own.
• The Norse won the battle of the boards, 39-34, and improve to 17-4 when out-rebounding their foes.
• NKU committed just 10 turnovers for the third-straight game.
• Williams bested his previous career-high 21 points, posted on Dec. 21 against Brescia at BB&T Arena.
• McDonald's double-double was his 10th this season and the 15th of his career.
• Northern Kentucky makes the short trip to Youngstown, Ohio to take on Youngstown State on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the final regular-season road contest of the season.