Kearney, Neb – The Nebraska-Kearney men’s basketball team tallied 25 points off 16 turnovers to hold off South Dakota Mines, 63-62, Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.
UNK (3-3) finishes up 3-1 against a slate of Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) foes this year. Meanwhile, the Hardrockers drop to 2-3.
“I thought our guys came out and gave good effort. That was the best 35 minutes we’ve played all year. The last five we could’ve done a better job but if you go up and down the line we had a lot of guys contribute,” UNK head coach Kevin Lofton said. “Morgan (Soucie) again was big … we were able to go through him in the post in key situations.”
The Lopers, leading for 35 minutes on the night, seemingly had things sewn up as they lead 61-46 with 3:44 remaining. That lead came as a result of an 11-2 run and was highlighted by points from four different players. However, Mines made six of its last eight shots while UNK missed four free throws and committed three turnovers in the final four minutes to make things way too interesting. An offensive foul called on the ‘Rockers, with 10 seconds left, in the lane was key as Kearney was up just 63-59 at that point. The final score as a result of a last second SDM triple.
The Lopers led 33-25 at the half thanks to 10 steals leading directly to a 20-0 advantage in points off turnovers. Kearney had just one theft after the break with five different players logging at least one.
“Rebounding wise we hung in there against a pretty good sized team. The (points off turnovers) was huge,” Lofton said. “They are such a good three-point shooting team … they ended up with nine and average 12. We held them to three in the first half and that was a big reason we were able to build a lead.”
Mines came out firing and had tied things up at 38 five minutes into the second half but UNK never fell behind, leading 50-41 by the 9:41 mark. A layup from Iowa senior Kyle Juhl made it a nine-point cushion with the lead soon ballooning to double digits.
Ten different Lopers were in the scoring column led by Kansas senior forward Morgan Soucie (17) and Texas junior guard RJ Pair (10). Soucie had nine after the break and was 7 of 16 from the floor with Pair make four field goals and having two steals in 16 minutes of action.
Next, Juhl had an all-around stat line (eight points, five rebounds, four steals) with Alliance junior Austin Luger at a team-best seven boards, two assists and two thefts. Finally Spalding sophomore guard Noah Valasek tallied five points and three caroms.
UNK hosts the rival Wayne State Wildcats (3-5) Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.