Lopers win again

Kearney, Neb. – Sophomore Ethan Brozek had a double double and sophomore Connor Beranek had another big second half performance to help Nebraska-Kearney hold off Pittsburg State, 92-83, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. UNK (12-10, 8-7) has won seven in a row, its longest win streak since a nine game stretch during the 2006-07 season. Taking the season series from the Gorillas (7-14, 3-11), the Lopers had to shake off a slow start. Both teams were shooting 28% (8 of 28) midway through the first half as Kearney held a 12-8 lead. That four point cushion remained at the half, 39-35, as UNK sunk 13 of 20 free throws and Brozek already had his second double (14 points & 10 rebounds) of the year.

Both teams, as usual, warmed up in the second half, Pitt going 16 of 32 (6 of 11 threes) and UNK connecting on 16 of 28 (3 of 7 threes) shots. The Lopers, who led for the final 32 minutes, opened up a 55-46 advantage after a dunk by senior post Mike Dentlinger (Millard North) and a jumper by Beranek (Ravenna). However, Oregon transfer Devon Branch brought the Gorillas back as his layup made it a 60-57 game at the 11:08 mark. The Loper lead was whittled to one, 75-74, six minutes later but Brozek (Norfolk) was fouled after a fast break dunk. He made the ensuing free throw and then UNK went 13 of 14 at the line in the final 3:46 to salt things away. UNK went 31 of 44 at the line (70.5%) overall and had a season-low five turnovers, including none in the first half. Brozek finished with 23 points and a career-high 18 rebounds (17 defensive). The board total is the most by a Loper since All-American Dusty Jura had 20 in a March 2007 game vs. Adams State.

After having 17 points and seven rebounds in last Saturday's win at Washburn, Beranek had 17 points after the break tonight. That included a deep three late in the shot clock that made it 87-78 with just over a minute to play. Also, freshman guard Kevin Dineen (Creighton Prep) had a season-high 12 points thanks to seven made free throws in the final three minutes. Finally, Benkelman senior Kendal Glidden (five points & three o-boards) and Kentucky junior Delquan Thomas (seven points, four assists & two rebounds) were productive off the bench. Branch, one of four Pitt players in double figures, had 16 points, seven boards, six assists and two steals. UNK is off until next Wednesday when they are at Emporia State.

Kearney, Neb. – Pittsburg State got 20 points from All-American Lizzy Jeronimus and took advantage of 21 turnovers to beat Nebraska-Kearney, 66-50, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. Headed toward an NCAA Tournament berth, the Gorillas improve to 18-6 (11-3) while the Lopers fall to 8-14 (4-11).

Things were great for Kearney early on as they led 17-4 eight minutes in. This stretch included seven made baskets, including threes from senior Nicole Arp (Kearney H.S.) and sophomore Laramey Lewis (Trenton).

However, Pitt finished the half on a 23-8 run and then shot 52% (17 of 33) after the break. UNK committed nine turnovers in the first half and 12 more in the second half, leading to 28 Pitt points. The Lopers also shot 33% (20 of 60) from the field, thus not taking advantage of 16 offensive boards. A 5-11 junior lefty, Jeronimus was 9 of 17 from the field and 2 of 2 at the line. She also had five rebounds (two offensive) and three assists in 29 minutes Blocking nine Kearney shots, the Gorillas had two other starters reach double figures with the bench providing 24 points. For UNK, Beatrice senior Shelby Zimmerman (14 points & eight rebounds) and Missouri junior Amarah Williams (10 points & nine rebounds) were the workhorses. Off the bench, true freshman Alexa Hogberg (Chandler, Ariz.) and Kelsey Fitzgerald (Yankton, S.D.) each went 3 of 5 from the field to tally six points apiece. The Lopers are off until a road date at No. 7 Emporia State next Wednesday.

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