The score was tied at 35 at intermission and USC-Upstate pulled away on an 11-2 run with 16:19 to go. The Norse got no closer than four points for the rest of the game and USC-Upstate held its largest lead at 11.
The Spartans shot 53.1 percent from the floor, but made just two 3-pointers on 11 attempts.
Tyler White scored 17 points to lead Northern Kentucky (7-10, 3-2). The Norse shot 12 of 15 (80 percent) from the free-throw line and made seven from 3-point range.