Kearney, Neb. – Seniors Michaela Barry and McKenzie Brown both got close to double doubles and freshman Kelsey Sanger had another big effort as Nebraska-Kearney held off Washburn, 70-61, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. The red hot Lopers (17-3, 9-3) are 11-0 at home and 10-0 in games decided by 10 points or less. Now with its highest win total nine years, UNK is tied with Pittsburg State for second in the MIAA. Washburn (14-7, 6-6) beat the Lopers handily, 57-39, back in December and had won 12 of the last 14 meetings in Kearney. However, UNK got out to a 21-14 first quarter lead and hung on for its second win over the ‘Bods as an MIAA member thanks to a dagger by Sanger (Crofton). Trailing for the final 34 minutes and by as many as 15 points, Washburn held UNK to 4 of 14 (29%) shooting in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back threes from post Axelle Bernard and reserve Hunter Bentley made it just a five-point game, 64-59, with 3:55 to play. That was as close as WU had been since early in the contest. UNK missed its next three shots but thankfully so did the ‘Bods. With 70 seconds left, Sanger hit a three from the left corner after taking a pass from Barry (Battle Creek). After WU missed a triple, graduate transfer Alyssa Frauendorfer (Humphrey) hit a three from the same spot as Sanger to make it 70-59. “Kelsey is really efficient and she picks and chooses her times to score it. She doesn’t need 20 shots to score 17,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. “Defensively, she went to work on a player that’s in the top five in scoring in the conference.” Replacing an injured Jenna Gillespie (Holdrege) in the starting lineup, Sanger went for 17 points, seven boards (five offensive) and five assists in 37 minutes. The 5-7 guard hit the game-winner last Thursday at Lindenwood and then had 14 points Saturday at Lincoln. “She’s growing in her confidence. The more college games she plays, the more comfortable she gets,” said Eighmey. “She’s everywhere on the court.” The Lopers ended the night plus 14 on the glass, 41-27, and that led to 12 second chance points. UNK also tallied 14 of its points off 12 Washburn turnovers. Individually, Brown (18 points and nine rebounds) hit four first half threes to reach her team-high point total with Barry (13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) leading in assists. Finally, starting post Jaymie Bernbeck (Garden City, Kan.) made all four shots she took to end with eight points and five rebounds. Washburn got a combined 28 points from starting guards Reagan Phelan and Alexis McAfee. UNK hosts perennial league power Emporia State Saturday afternoon. The Hornets (13-6, 8-4) suffered its worst defeat in 23 years, 90-63, Wednesday night at Fort Hays State.
Kearney, Neb. – Preseason All-American post Brady Skeens had a double double and Washburn closed on a 25-10 run to beat Nebraska-Kearney, 87-73, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. Washburn (16-5, 10-2) remains tied with defending national champion NW Missouri State for first place in the MIAA while the Lopers fall to 9-12 (5-7). The ‘Bods came into the year having lost eight straight to UNK but swept this year’s series. Tonight, they got another big effort from Skeens (28 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks) and shut down Kearney down the stretch. Thanks to a 22 of 27 effort at the line and 18 points off 15 turnovers, the Lopers held an early 13-5 lead and then hung around after Washburn seized control midway through the first half. Down nine late in the first half, UNK battled back to lead 63-62 with 9:07 to play after senior guard Yashua Trent (Chicago, Ill.) went 1 of 2 at the line. The lead didn’t last long as Kearney went 2 of 12 from the field (0 of 4 threes) with five turnovers the rest of the way. “We didn’t execute very well down the stretch. They kind of put their foot on the gas, got some easy stuff in transition and Skeens asserted himself throughout the entire game,” said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton. “We went to zone and it worked for one possession but they came back and made a good adjustment. Bottom line, they played well and we didn’t.” Two free throws from Lane Rohrich (Pierce) kept it a one possession game at the 5:12 mark but Washburn got one of many layups from junior guard Randall Smith and then he hit a rare triple after a Loper turnover. That made it 77-69 and the deficit just grew from there with two dunks by the ‘Bods closing things out. “They play really good man-to-man defense and were taking us out of everything we wanted to do in the first half. We spread it out and went four out, one in and that kind of turned things a bit early in the second half,” said Lofton. “You could see the edge there. We were able to beat them a couple of times last year and I’m sure that stuck with them.” Leading Division II in field goal percentage (73.8), Skeens finished 10 of 14 while also making six of eight free throws. The point total tied a career-high effort with 11 of his boards coming on the defensive end. Next, Smith had 16 points, seven assists and two steals with starter Isaac Clark and reserve Tyas Martin having 10 points apiece. Kearney was led by York senior Ty Danielson who had a season-best 25 points on 7 of 8 (2 of 3 threes) shooting. Going 9 for 9 at the line, he also had seven boards and two steals in 27 minutes off the bench. Preseason All-American forward Trey Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) was one of four Lopers to end with four fouls. He still managed 16 points, five boards, five assists, two blocks and two steals. Finally, Rohrich had 11 of his 13 points in the first half. UNK hosts Emporia State Saturday night. The Hornets (8-13, 3-9) have lost six straight after a 58-50 setback to Fort Hays State on Wednesday.