Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney men’s basketball team shot a season-high 57 percent, sunk 13 three pointers and got 56 points from a trio of seniors to roll past Central Oklahoma, 87-66, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. UNK (12-13, 8-8), now 8-2 at home, avenges a 77-69 road loss to UCO (17-8, 10-6) last Thursday night. The Bronchos came in as the 10th ranked team in the Central Region. Leading for the final 34 minutes, the Lopers out shot (57-37 percent) and out rebounded (36-26) a bigger ‘Chos squad with five Division I transfers on its roster. In the loss in Edmond, UCO managed 11 offensive boards in the first half; tonight they had seven for the game. “We defended and rebounded at a really high level tonight. Usually, it’s our offense that gets our defense going but it was in reverse tonight,” said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton. “ UNK closed the first half on a 14-5 run to lead 36-25 at the break. The stretch featured threes by seniors Trey Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) and Ty Danielson (York) and junior Isaiah McKay (Brooklyn Park, Minn.). Going 13 of 23 from behind the arc, the make total ties a season-high effort. “When Trey establishes himself in the paint, they have to collapse and that gives us wide open rhythm shots. I don’t think we took too many bad shots from the three point line,” said Lofton. “As long as they are inside out or come off ball reversal you feel like you have to take them.” While UCO sunk all 19 of its free throws and got 35 bench points, UNK controlled the second half thanks to 65 percent (17 of 26) shooting. That included 7 of 9 from downtown with the lead being at least 11 points over the final 7:28 “Defensively that as good as we’ve played in a long time. As big as they are, that’s as good as we’ve rebounded in a long time,” said Lofton. “This rivals the Northwest (Missouri) win in terms of the level that we competed at.” Sitting out just one minute, Lansman had another typical game; 25 points, 12 rebounds (all defensive), seven assists, two steals, one block, one assist and just one turnover. This marks his 14th double double of the year and pushes his career point total to 1,944. Next, Danielson remained on fire, sinking all five threes he attempted. Finishing with 17 points, four boards and two times, he now has 1,234 points as a Loper. Also in the backcourt, McKay (14 points, five assists and two steals) had an all-around effort over 34 minutes with senior Lane Rohrich (Pierce) adding 14 points, six boards, two assists and two steals. He was 3 of 4 from behind the arc and one of six Lopers with a triple in the win. UCO, shooting just 28 percent in the first half and going 5 of 22 from the three point line, had just one in double figures. Reserve guard Josh Holliday, averaging 3.7 points per game coming in, went for 20 thanks to 6 of 8 (5 of 7 threes) shooting. The Lopers host Northeastern State Saturday afternoon. The RiverHawks (7-18, 3-13) fell tonight at Fort Hays State, 81-74.
Kearney, Neb. – Six-five senior post Jesheon Cooper had a double and Central Oklahoma closed on a 20-7 run to beat Nebraska-Kearney, 59-53, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. This was a battle of two of the Central Region’s top 10 teams as UNK (19-5, 11-5) came in ranked sixth and UCO (20-5, 11-5) ninth. With the win, the Bronchos sweep the season series and hand the Lopers (11-1) its first home loss. Like last Thursday in Edmond, UNK led for over 30 minutes only to see UCO close on a big run and sneak away with a win. This game was a defensive struggle throughout as the ‘Chos shot 31.1 percent (19 of 61) from the field, including 1 of 13 from behind the arc, with the Lopers at 30.8 percent (20 of 65). That is UNK’s third lowest effort of the year. UCO countered its poor shooting by going 20 of 25 at the line. UNK has been one of Division II’s best team at not fouling all season, averaging about 13 fouls and 12 free throw attempts from its opponent per game. The 20 makes and 25 attempts are both season-highs. “They made a couple of adjustments defensively, playing more in the gaps and bringing helping on our drives. In the first quarter, we were really effective and they obviously needed to bring a little bit more help,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. “They did a good job of making us put in the ball in traffic, made it difficult on the perimeter and then have a shot blocker around the rim.” Scoring 21 of its points in the first 10 minutes, UNK led by nine early in the second quarter but by just three at the break. The ‘Chos briefly regained the lead in the third quarter but the Lopers were ahead 46-39 with 8:04 to play. Kearney started the final quarter by making two of its first four shots; it didn’t make another field goal until there was 27 seconds left and the game was well in-hand for UCO. “We had several empty possessions (in the fourth quarter) and on a couple of those we got good looks but just weren’t able to knock them down. They were able to get to the rim and finish a couple of easy shots. That was the difference; our shots were a little bit tougher than theirs,” said Eighmey. A three-point play by Blake Blessington made it 48 all at the 4:37 mark and then a layup from Megan Hartness with three minutes to go gave UCO the lead for good. UNK tallied five of its 11 fourth quarter points in the final 27 seconds. “The free throws were the difference in the game. We made two pointers, we made more three pointers but we didn’t get to the line as much as they did,” said Eighmey. Cooper had 12 points, 15 rebounds (12 defensive), three blocks and altered shots all night long, as did six-foot reserve post Ireon Smith (six points, two rebounds and one block). Blessington and starting guard Melinda Murillo each tallied 11 with a total of eight ‘Chos entering the scoring column. UNK got double doubles from senior McKenzie Brown (14 points and 10 rebounds) and sophomore reserve post Kennedy Sanger (10 points and 10 rebounds). Sander went 4 of 7 from the field with Holdrege sophomore guard Jenna Gillespie sinking 3 of 4 shots to tally seven. Coming off the disabled list, this was her first game since January 13. The Lopers face Northeastern State Saturday afternoon. The RiverHawks (9-14, 5-11) lost 73-45 tonight at Fort Hays State, its sixth straight setback