Click here to listen to podcast
Kearney, Neb. – Graduate transfer Haley Simental was big in the game’s final minute and freshman guard Trinity Law had a huge third quarter to help No. 23/30 Nebraska-Kearney get past Central Oklahoma, 75-69, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. UNK (21-2, 10-2) pushes its win streak to nine in a row to tie the all-time series with the Bronchos (15-7, 9-5) at eight apiece. The rematch is set for later this month in Edmond. Out rebounded by 11 but having a plus eight turnover margin, the Lopers were down 46-37 midway through the third quarter. Law (Brandon, S.D.), who hadn’t appeared in a game since mid-January due to injury, had just entered and promptly manage to rip off 11 points, a steal and rebound in nine minutes. Her play not only helped erase the deficit but also gave UNK a 54-50 lead heading into the fourth. Brooke Carlson “UCO is a very talented and good basketball team. They’ve got size, they’ve got athleticism, and they score it from a lot of different places. So we knew this one was going to be a challenge,” said UNK head coach Carrie Eighmey. “First half I thought defensively we were not able to get enough stops. Forty was a lot to give up … I thought we stepped up in the second half and were better on that end of the court.” UCO countered with reserve junior forward Kaci Richardson (11 points & five rebounds) who knocked down back-to-back threes to tie the game at 60 with 6:54 to play. She had hit an earlier triple after coming into the night with only eight makes from long distance.
Starting guard Shatoya Bryson, who haunted the Lopers last year with a 25-point effort, tied the game at 69 with 56 seconds left on a right wing three. That setup Simental (Pueblo West, Colo.) who calmly hit a pull up jumper from 17 feet out eight seconds later. She then made four straight free throws and had a key steal over next 30 seconds to put UCO away. “Trinity is not scared of the big moments. She is coming off injury and hasn’t played in about three weeks. She came in today and it looked like she hasn’t missed a game or hasn’t missed a beat,” Eighmey said. “Trinity already is and is going to be in her career a really good college basketball player. She is so athletic and able to score in a lot of different ways.” Scoring 24 points off 20 UCO miscues, UNK got scoring from 10 different players with Simental at a team-high 19. She made eight freebies and four shots with Elkhorn sophomore post Brooke Carlson 5 of 6 from the field to tally 11. Next South Dakota sophomore wing Klaire Kirsch had nine rebounds, four assists and two points with Kansas sophomore reserve forward Elisa Backes at six points, three steals, two rebounds and several defensive deflections. Having a 42-30 advantage in points in the paint, UCO was led by 6-3 junior post Kelsey Johnson (12 points) and fellow starters Jaci Littell and Clary Donica who had 10 apiece. UNK hosts the Newman Jets (9-14, 4-10) on Saturday afternoon. They fell to Fort Hays State tonight, 78-58.
Click here to listen to podcast
Kearney, Neb. – Senior forwards AJ Jackson and Morgan Soucie had big efforts and Nebraska-Kearney was sharp at the line in the second half to beat Central Oklahoma, 66-49, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. The Lopers (13-8, 7-5) stop a three-game losing streak and beat the Bronchos (7-16, 4-10) for just the fifth time in 18 all-time meetings. This was UCO’s seventh straight loss with the rematch set for later this month in Edmond. Against a deep, athletic and long UCO squad, UNK fell behind 24-15 by the seven minute mark of the first half. The ‘Chos made 13 of 27 shots (48.9%) over the first 20 minutes but also went 3 of 7 at the line and committed six turnovers. Down just 31-26 at the break the Lopers owned the second half to the tune of 40-18. UCO was only 5 of 26 from the field (19.2%) including a 1 of 10 effort from behind the arc. UNK didn’t make a basket for a seven minute stretch but went 15 of 16 at the line to keep the lead in double figures. A couple of late dunks by Jackson (Bellevue West), after UNK had broken a full-court press, sealed the win. “We saw some good things from the usual suspects in AJ and Morgan. You can’t take those guys for granted,” said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton. “It was nice to see Kyle (Juhl) knock a couple in and to see Jake (Walker) have a couple go there after battling the flu last week.” Plus four on the glass, making 21 of 28 free throws and connecting on 44% (20 of 45) of its field goals, UNK saw Soucie (Osawatomie , Kan.) record his third double double of the year with 18 points and 13 rebounds (10 defensive). He was 6 of 11 from the field and added four assists and two blocks. Next Jackson went for a game-high 21 points thanks to 7 of 10 shooting; he came into the week leading the MIAA in field goal percentage (61.9). “With a losing streak confidence was a little shaky at the start but as the game wore on we stepped up and that was good to see,” Lofton said. “They are as long and as athletic as any team we’re going to face. We did a better job in the second half of dealing with the pick-and-roll … we did a better job of containing the dribble and also rotating once we did get beat. We had some key blocks around the basket.” Also for UNK Iowa senior forward Kyle Juhl had eight points, eight rebounds and five assists with Alliance junior forward Austin Luger recording eight points in 17 minutes off the bench. Finally Utah junior guard Jake Walker tallied seven points, five caroms and four assists. “In the first half our free throw shooting was nonexistent (6 of 12). But in the second half we made a lot of key free throws down the stretch which we always preach is a big key to winning close games,” Lofton said. “To be down five at halftime and come out the way we did, on both ends of the floor, it was definitely encouraging.” Twelve different ‘Chos played with 6-6 reserve wing Justin Nimmer (16 points, five rebounds, two steals) the most effective. Seven others got into the scoring column as UCO finished 18 of 53 (34%) from the field. UNK hosts league newcomer Newman (8-15, 2-12) on Saturday afternoon. The Jets lost tonight at Fort Hays State, 79-72.