Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team took advantage of 21 turnovers and held Central Oklahoma to 23 percent field goal shooting to post a 63-43 win Saturday afternoon in Edmond.
The Lopers (4-0) have now held all four opponents under 55 points. UCO (2-2), who didn’t have a Thursday game this week, came in averaging 75 points and shooting 46 percent from the field.
“Our kids came in focused and were really locked in. (UCO) is a quality basketball team. I think they are a top three or four team in this league,” UNK assistant coach Devin Eighmey said on the KRVN Radio postgame show. “This is a big-time win.”
UNK got scoring from nine different players with six between eight and 10. Getting out to an early 12-4 lead, the Lopers made just three of 17 second quarter shots. That, along with some good foul shooting by the Bronchos, made it 22 all at the half. UCO six-three center Kelsey Johnson, coming in averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds a night, was dinged with two early fouls but her teammates out scored UNK 16-10 over the second 10 minutes.
“We liked where we were at halftime. It was 22-22 and I think we had six or seven more shot attempts. Ten of their 22 points came at the free throw line and we gave up some back breaking plays,” Eighmey said. “We came out in the third quarter and really established ourselves.”
The Lopers out scored the ‘Chos 41-21 in the second half, starting the third quarter on a 6-0 run. Redshirt sophomore Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Hill, Ia.) rebounded a missed free throw and found fellow reserve forward Madison Dreckman (Le Mars, Ia.) for a layup. That made it 35-27 with 1:26 left in the third and the lead just grew from there.
Crofton senior guard Kelsey Sanger scored UNK’s first five points in the fourth with the lead reaching 20 points, 56-36, with exactly four to play. UCO’s 21 turnovers led to 27 Kearney points with the ‘Chos going 0 of 15 from behind the arc. They finished just 12 of 52 from the field.
“We did a good job on Kelsey Johnson. Defensively, to hold them to 43 points, that was a clinic,” Eighmey said. “Offensively we got contributions from everywhere. That’s the hard thing about us … who do you take away?”
UNK shot 41% (23 of 56) and made 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter. Colorado point guard Haley Simental scored a team-high 10 thanks to two made threes with Sanger, South Dakota junior wing Klaire Kirsch and Wahoo junior reserve guard Aspen Jansa at nine apiece. Sanger made 4 of 5 shots, Jansa hit two treys with Kirsch grabbing 10 boards and a career-best seven steals. This marks her seventh career double double.
Johnson paced the ‘Chos with 15 points, nine rebounds (five offensive), an assist and steal. She logged 27 minutes in working around four fouls. UNK hosts Rogers State (Friday) and Northeastern State (Sunday) next weekend.
Kearney, Neb. – The Central Oklahoma Bronchos used a big second half to rally past Nebraska-Kearney, 72-65, Saturday evening in Edmond, Okla.
UCO, who didn’t have a Thursday night game this week, improves to 1-3 while the Lopers (1-4) lose in Edmond for an eighth straight winter. Almost all of those setbacks have come by less than 10 points.
Alliance senior forward Austin Luger had all 18 of his points in the first half as UNK opened up a 34-23 cushion. In a Thursday loss at Newman Luger had 12 points in the final five minutes. However, the Lopers 34-25 intermission advantage evaporated in the second half as UNK went cold. Kearney had just a couple of field goals by the 10-minute mark with UCO eventually grabbing a 58-51 lead.
“I think a couple of things happened. We got great mileage out of our zone in the first half and we made some shots. Guys were focused and we were having some success,” UNK head coach Kevin Lofton said on the KRVN radio post-game show. “In the second half they came alive on the offensive boards big time … they kind of man handled us. And their shooters woke up and we just couldn’t hit the shots we were getting.”
UCO out shot UNK by a 52-30 percent margin after the break. With each team playing a lot of zone throughout the game there were plenty of long range bombs. The Lopers were 5 of 23 from behind the arc in the second half with the ‘Chos 5 of 14. The 35 overall three point attempts by UNK are tied for fifth most in school history and five shy of tying the record.
“We were getting decent looks against their zone … at times we got it inside and were able to attack them there. But, at a certain point if a team is sitting in a zone, somebody somewhere has to hit the open looks,” Lofton said. “They did and we weren’t able to.”
Junior wing Camryn Givens (15), junior guard Callen Haydon (13) and Washington State transfer Isaiah Wade (10) scored in double figures for UCO. Givens also had six boards, Haydon went 5 of 8 from the field with Wade having a team-best seven boards before leaving late due to injury.
UCO had 17 second chance points via 12 offensive rebounds while also getting 38 points off its bench. UNK was 15 of 26 from inside the arc with eight different players scoring.
Luger grabbed 11 rebounds (four offensive), making this his second straight and third career double double. He went 7 of 15 (3 of 7 threes) from the field and 1 of 1 at the line. Next, Utah senior guard Jake Walker carried in the offense in the second half and ended up with 17 thanks to three treys and four freebies. Finally, Wahoo sophomore reserve forward Winston Cook had eight points, four rebounds and an assist in 18 minutes of work.
“It’s not like you’re going to be perfect … everybody makes mistakes. But we’ve got to stop making the same ones over and over,” Lofton said.
The Lopers host Rogers State (Friday) and Northeastern State (Sunday) next week.