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Kearney, Neb. – The Wayne State Wildcats had five score in double figures and used big runs in each half to down Nebraska-Kearney, 87-58, Tuesday night in Rice Auditorium.
A veteran WSC squad improves to 5-1 while a young Loper unit drops to 3-3. Wayne also improves to 2-1 against the MIAA this year, previously beating Pittsburg State and losing to Central Missouri.
Looking to win for the first time on the road this winter, UNK jumped out to leads of 8-3 and 18-17 in the early going. However, Wayne used a 24-2 run to take control and never looked back. During this stretch UNK committed seven turnovers and went 2 of 16 from the field.
“Give credit to Wayne … they played well after they got the first five minutes under their belt. They found another gear and we didn’t go a good job of staying with them,” said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton. “They established themselves inside for the majority of the game. It seemed like they made everything.”
Down 45-29 at the break, the Lopers started the second half on a 12-6 run. The spurt featured a dunk by senior Carter Burns (Ankeny, Ia.), a three from junior Kyle Juhl (Harlan, Ia.) and five points from freshman Kanon Koster (Kearney). That made the score 51-41 at the 15:11 mark but the ‘Cats quickly countered with a 19-6 run that put things on ice.
“We couldn’t find any consistency and didn’t do a good job of working together for a shot. That hurt us for prolonged stretches,” said Lofton. “With a young team on the road we’re going to go through ups and downs and peaks and valleys. Hopefully the valleys won’t be this low all the time.”
Shooting over 50 percent from the field coming in, Wayne finished 33 of 67 (49.3 pct.) despite a 4 of 18 effort from behind the arc. Making 17 of 20 free throws, the ‘Cats tallied 18 of its points off of 18 UNK turnovers, got 26 points off the bench and swatted five shots.
Individually, four starters reached double digits including senior guard Vance Janssen (17) and freshman forward Jordan Janssen (15). Jordan Janssen added a game-high 10 rebounds with this pair combining to go 11 of 20 from the floor. Junior post Tony Bonner (6-8, 230 lbs.) finished with 10 points in 13 minutes coming off the bench.
Koster and junior forward AJ Jackson (Bellevue West) powered the Lopers. Koster led the team in scoring (16) for a fifth time and also got close to another triple double (nine rebounds and six assists). Jackson, in just 22 minutes, had 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting.
UNK returns home Saturday to face the NAIA Mount Marty College Lancers at 2 p.m.