Kearney, Neb. – Three players scored in double figures and Nebraska-Kearney was plus 14 on the glass to hold off Wayne State, 59-52, Saturday afternoon at the Health & Sports Center.
This was UNK’s season opener while the Wildcats fall to 2-2. Wayne still leads the all-time series, 37-32. Last year against the ‘Cats vaunted 2-3 zone, UNK hoisted up 28 three pointers in a 69-56 setback. Today, the Lopers worked the ball around the perimeter, found holes in the zone and eventual got layups in the second half. And Kearney finished 1 of 9 from behind the arc.
“Offensively in the first half we were a little bit stagnant. We moved the ball okay but didn’t move bodies,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. “In the second half, we did a better job of moving the ball, moving bodies, getting some high-low action and getting some open looks around the rim. We also forced them to defend without fouling.”
UNK shot 70 percent (7 of 10) from the field in the fourth quarter to outscore Wayne 33-24 in the second half. The Lopers erased a 28-26 halftime deficit by limiting the ‘Cats to just eight third quarter points. A seven-point cushion in the third ballooned to a 50-38 advantage halfway through the fourth after a layup by Grand Island senior McKenzie Brown.
“The two three zone can be difficult to score on, especially if you’re not shooting the ball particularly well. Making just one three pointer is a bit worrisome but we were able to get enough opportunities around the rim which is what we were looking for,” said Eighmey.
Wayne had one more run in them and some quick shots by UNK also allowed them to come back. A three from Maggie Schulte made it 55-52 with 1:01 left. Playing her first college basketball game, graduate transfer Alyssa Frauendorfer (Humphrey) responded with a driving layup 30 seconds later. Two Brown freebies finished the scoring.
“Alyssa was a little nervous in the first quarter but I thought she really settled in. She was a huge presence for us in the paint and is a gamer,” said Eighmey. “We knew we wanted to use her to attack from the high post.”
UNK out shot Wayne by 10 percentage points, 43-33, and was also plus 10 on the defensive glass, 32-22. The Lopers got 17 bench points and tallied 11 points off of 12 offensive caroms.
Individually, Frauendorfer and Lincoln redshirt sophomore post Kennedy Sander both tallied 17 with Brown having her second career double double (10 points and 11 rebounds). Her first double double (14 points and 12 rebounds) came at Wayne four years ago.
Sander (11) and Frauendorfer (10) combined for 21 of UNK’s 33 second half points as they went 9 of 16 from the floor. Sander missed most of last year due to injury while Frauendorfer was earning her fourth volleyball All-American honor while playing for Wayne.
“Having Kennedy back is huge. She understands angles, how to use her body and finishes so well around the rim. She is an energetic player and has so many intangibles you just can’t teach,” said Eighmey.
Before fouling out late, Wayne start post Paige Ballinger had 17 points, eight rebounds (five offensive), five blocks, two assists and two steals. Off the bench, Andrea Larson had 10 points in 15 minutes.
UNK hosts NAIA Central Christian College of Kansas on Monday at 5:30 p.m.