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Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team hit a season-high 10 three pointers and closed on a 16-5 run to hold off Colorado-Colorado Springs, 61-45, Sunday evening at the Health & Sports Center.
The game was part of the UNK Crossover Tournament. UNK is now 4-2 while the Mountains Lions (0-4) remain winless. In the early game, Fort Hays State improved to 5-0 with an 89-59 decision over Chadron State (1-5).
UCCS jumped out to 5-0 lead but the Lopers went 4 of 6 from behind the arc in the opening quarter to quickly move ahead 18-8. Freshman guard Klaire Kirsch (Rapid City, S.D.) hit two of the long range shots and assisted on another.
The Lopers hit two more threes in the next quarter to open up a 33-16 lead. However, UCCS trailed by 14 at the break and then outscored UNK by three in the third quarter. The advantage could’ve been more but Kirsch and sophomore reserve guard Shelby Megyeri (Green Mountain Falls, Colo.) hit threes with the shot clock winding down on both possessions
“Our three point shooting was huge tonight. We have capable shooters and I’ve been saying that,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. “We knew they were going to challenge us to make some. They packed it in the paint and see if we would. We had some different players knock them down and that helped to open up things around the basket in the end.”
Going 4 of 15 from three point land, UCCS hung around and used some full-court pressure to help start an 8-2 run early in the fourth quarter. That made it just a 46-41 Loper lead with 6:38 to play.
After the Mountain Lions misfired on two threes in the same offensive possession, the second one led to a run out and freshman Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Hill, Ia.) converted the layup and an ensuing free throw. That helped stem the UCCS tide and started that closing 16-5 Loper run.
“It was important to not give up the lead at the point. I thought our team did a good job, on three possessions in a row, of executing. We were able to get the ball to Shiloh and she made some really good decisions with the ball,” said Eighmey. “We also got some stops on the defensive end and that gave us some breathing room.”
McCool scored all seven of her points in the final 4:57 with fellow forward Maegan Holt (Council Bluffs, Ia.) hitting two of her three triples. Besides Holt (3 of 6), four other Lopers had at least on trey in the game.
Before leaving with injury in late in the third quarter, sophomore guard Adreon Bell (Independence, Mo.) had a game-high 13 points, three boards and two assists. She made five free throws and three field goals (two threes) in 23 minutes. The point total is a new career-high.
“Adreon was really, really good in a lot of different ways for us tonight. Defensively she was solid, offensively she was setting up people, distributing the ball and getting people great shots. When she went down, that was a key moment for us,” said Eigmey.
Besides its perimeter shooting, UNK scored 20 points off of 19 Lion 19 turnovers and made 9 of 12 free throws. Next, Kirsch and Holt scored 11 apiece with Kirsch adding six rebounds and three steals and Holt supplying five boards, two assists and two steals. Finally, sophomore Kelsey Sanger (Crofton) went a game-high 38 minutes and had an all-around stat line of four assists, four points, three boards and two steals.
Starter Emily Seifert led Springs with 12 points and four rebounds. Seven of her teammates were between one and seven points.
UNK hosts NAIA Manhattan Christian (1-1) Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The Thunder are at Kansas Christian on Tuesday.