The Norse (8-12, 4-4 Atlantic Sun) shot 55 percent from the field and had all five starters score in double figures. Tyler White hit a trio of 3-pointers to finish with 10 points and Anthony Monaco also had 10.
Trailing 52-51 in the second half, Northern Kentucky surged ahead as Cole Murray hit two 3-pointers to fuel a 14-3 run, giving the Norse a 10-point lead with 8:54 to play.
The Owls couldn't pull closer than eight the rest of the way as Northern Kentucky made their last 10 free throw attempts.
Mississippi State freshman guard Malik Newman will withdraw from the NBA draft, but sources told ESPN he might explore other opportunities besides returning to Mississippi State.
Seton Hall sophomore Isaiah Whitehead will stay in the NBA draft and not return for his junior season.
Washington State's trio of Josh Hawkinson, Conor Clifford and Ike Iroegbu have withdrawn from the NBA draft and will play their senior season with the Cougars.