Kearney, Neb. – Guards Michaela Barry and Grace Barry (no relation) combined for back-to-back steals and layups to help Nebraska-Kearney rally past short-handed Missouri Western State, 55-49, Saturday afternoon at the Health & Sports Center.
UNK (14-3, 6-3) has won six of its last seven and is now 9-0 at home. The Griffons (10-9, 3-7), picked sixth in the MIAA preseason poll, have lost six in a row but two of those came in overtime.
Showing its mettle, the Lopers have trailed in the fourth quarter in seven of its 10 wins over Division II competition. That deficit tonight was nine points with 3:29 to go. In Thursday’s 88-79 double overtime win over Northwest Missouri, the Lopers were down 10 at the 4:00 mark.
“Throughout the game, you want to run what’s in the game plan. You’re playing basketball but you’re maybe not being that aggressive. Late in the game, if you’re down, you get into that attack, attack, attack mode. That actually helps offense. Now we just have to carry that over into the earlier quarters and we’ll be golden,” said UNK head coach Carrie Eighmey.
MWSU began the year with 13 players but only six were available tonight. Thus, all five starters went the distance. The Griffs got super performances from post Dossu Ndiaye (14 points and 11 rebounds) and guard Savannah Lentz (21 points and four steals) but were outscored 29-10 in the fourth quarter. UNK was 10 of 12 from the field and 8 of 9 from the line to come back from a deficit as big as 16 points in the second half.
“They did a good job in the first half of going from man to zone and sped us up. We were just a little bit out of sync and we weren’t making shots. We just needed to calm down,” said Eighmey. “It doesn’t matter what defense they are in; it’s basketball. Slow down, play at our pace, move the ball. We did a better job of that in the second half.”
A three from guard Melia Richardson made it 47-38 Griffs at the 3:29 mark. UNK went on a 9-0 run with a Grace Barry (Lincoln East) steal and subsequent layup by Michaela Barry (Battle) tying things up with 1:01 to play. Not surprisingly, UNK slapped on some full-court pressure at the end.
About 16 seconds after Michaela’s layup, Grace followed suit after a steal by her backcourt mate. It marked the Lopers first lead since early in the first quarter.
“That’s our kids just making plays. They are tough and competitive and they knew we had to make something happen in order to give us another possession,” said Eighmey.
An athletic six-two post from Senegal who caused problems all night, Ndiaye was fouled with 27 seconds left but missed both free throws. Kearney went 6 of 6 at the line to complete its scoring. In the final 3:29, MWSU committed five of its 19 turnovers with each one leading to UNK points (11 in all).
“In the fourth quarter, we got some transition opportunities which we hadn’t been able to do earlier. They went man late, which most teams do, and that actually helped us. We were able to get in to our normal offensive flow,” said Eighmey.
Mo West led for 32 minutes thanks to an offense that ran the shot clock down on each possession and a series of different defenses. A 2-3 zone gave UNK fits most of the night, leading to 15 turnovers and around 35 percent shooting.
Michaela Barry paced UNK once again, going for 18 points on 7 of 16 (2 of 6 threes) shooting). In the paint, Humphrey graduate transfer Alyssa Frauendorfer tallied 14 points, five rebounds (four offensive), four assists and three steals with senior McKenzie Brown (G.I. Northwest) at nine points and six boards.
For a second straight game, the Lopers got big performances off its bench. Guard Kyleigh Vaught (Smithton, Ill.) played most of the fourth quarter and tallied five points with Grace Barry having three assists, two steals and those two big go-ahead points.
“This team is committed to each other and has a desire to win and do well,” said Eighmey. “They are having fun.” UNK heads to Lindenwood (Thurs.) and Lincoln (Sat.) next weekend. These are the only games vs. the Lions and Blue Tigers this season.
Kearney, Neb. – Senior forward Trey Lansman had his 10th double double of the year and junior guard Isaiah McKay had his best game of the season as Nebraska-Kearney held off Missouri Western State, 78-71, Saturday evening at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers (8-10, 4-5) are now 6-1 at home and will play six of its final 10 games on the Buckle Court. Mo West (3-14, 1-9) loses an eighth straight game and falls to 2-8 in contests decided by 10 points or less.
Kearney came into the week also snake bit like in close games. But after Thursday’s 66-59 win over No. 2 NW Missouri State and tonight’s effort, UNK is now 6-9 in games decided by 10 points or less.
“They got up on us early so we switched things up with a three-quarters court press. That got us in transition and Isaiah hit three big threes to cut into their lead and away we went,” said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton.
UNK led for the last 30 minutes but a game Griffons team hung around and almost came back from a 15-point hole with 6:44 to play. A Loper technical foul started the spurt and was capped with two free throws by junior Lavon Hightower. Suddenly, it was 68-64 with three to play.
“We came out well in the second half and stretched things out a little bit but they started to full court press and we got a bit passive and sloppy. It didn’t have to be that exciting down the stretch,” said Lofton.
The Lopers got a layup from senior guard Lane Rohrich (Pierce) and a dunk by reserve freshman post Weston Baker Magrath (Marshall, Minn.) to lead 72-66 with 1:55 left. Neither team scored again until Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) went 1 of 2 at the line with 49 seconds to go. Mo West’s TJ Evans, who was hot most of the game, missed two threes during that scoreless minute.
Hightower hit a tough three from the corner to again make it a four-point game but UNK broke the press and that led to a layup by McKay with 22 ticks left. The Lopers then went 3 of 6 at the line to close things out.
Lansman finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds (11 defensive) in 34 minutes. Going 8 of 13 from the field (2 of 3 threes) and 5 of 7 at the line, he also blocked four shots and had five assists.
“You hate to say it but you just expect that from Trey. He’s doing some special things. Like some of our guys in the past, you really don’t realize how good they are until you’re not seeing them every night,” said Lofton. “We’ll try and enjoy every game with him as we go down the stretch.”
After this weekend, Lansman now has 1,804 career points, eighth most in school history. He entered the week ranking in the NCAA Division II top 27 in seven different categories, including scoring, rebounding and double doubles.
Looking like the player who earned 2017 honorable mention All-MIAA honors, McKay (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) tallied a season-high 16 points. He made six field goals, three from long range, and added four defensive rebounds and three assists. McKay has been banged up all year, missing nine games in total.
“I’m hoping this really ignites him because he is a good shooter. He’s been searching for confidence and rhythm. Those three threes really looked good coming off his hands in the first half,” said Lofton.
Coming off a big effort against Northwest, Rohrich had five assists and scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half. Off the bench, Baker Magrath had eight points, four rebounds and three blocks with sophomore forward Kyle Juhl (Harlan, Ia.) at nine points, five rebounds and two steals.
“We started to see glimpses of what we saw in the summer from (Weston). He’s finishing strong around the rim and impacting the paint,” said Lofton. Hightower and Evans both scored 20 for Mo West with reserve post Seth Bonifas at 11 points, four blocks and four rebounds in just 19 minutes.
UNK heads to Lindenwoood (Thurs.) and Lincoln (Sat.) next weekend. These are the only games vs. the Lions and Blue Tigers this season.