HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Thanks in large part to a freshman from Elkhart, Senior Night at Northern Kentucky University was saved, and it came in front of the largest crowd ever to watch a regular-season college basketball game at the five-year-old Bank of Kentucky Center.
Elkhart Memorial graduate Todd Johnson came off the bench to ignite a ferocious rally as the Norse charged from 13 points down over the final two-plus minutes to beat Jacksonville 66-62 on Saturday, March 2.
NKU outscored the Dolphins 21-4 in the closing 2:09.
The 5-foot-9 Johnson started the rally with a 3-pointer while being fouled. He added the free throw for a four-point play and a 58-49 deficit.
Johnson then made a backcourt steal that led to another Norse basket, one of Jacksonville’s six turnovers over the final 2:36.
Johnson also converted 2-of-2 at the line with 1:03 left to close the gap to 58-55.
In the final seconds, he made another steal that led to two more Norse points and a 64-61 lead.
Attendance was 6,719, though many in the crowd had left by the time the home team trailed big late.
Johnson finished with six points and two steals in 10 minutes off the bench as NKU improved to 11-15 overall, 9-9 in the Atlantic Sun Conference with its largest comeback win of the season. Jacksonville dropped to 14-17 and 9-9.
The Norse conclude their first NCAA Division I season March 14 at San Francisco. As part of their transition to DI, they are ineligible for A-Sun Tournament and NCAA Tournament play their first four seasons.
Johnson heads into the finale with averages of 13.3 minutes, 2.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.7 steals in his first collegiate season. He has appeared in all but one game.