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Gagai can’t rally NKU to GLVC finals

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Dennis Gagai tried to do it all himself and he almost succeeded.

Gagai rallied the Northern Kentucky Norse from a 3-point halftime deficit to a 10-point lead, but Kentucky Wesleyan was still able to come back and hold on for an 81-76 win Saturday in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament semifinals.

Gagai scored a game-high 25 points for the Norse including a pair of 3-pointers that put the lead at 57-47 with 14 minutes to play.

Down 59-49, Kentucky Wesleyan put together a 22-5 run that gave them a 71-64 lead.

KWU hit eight foul shots in the final minute and led 79-76 with 10 seconds to play. The Panthers swarmed Gagai who just missed a 3-point attempt to tie the game.

Desmond Stephens was fouled after getting the rebound and hit two free throws to seal the win for Kentucky Wesleyan.

Gagai — the former All-Ohio guard and all-time leading scorer at Ironton — finished the game 8-of-16 from the field including 6-of-12 from behind the arc. He was 3-of-3 from the line and also grabbed six rebounds.