September 23, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

Loper Basketball Teams Split on Friday Night

Kearney, Neb. – Redshirt junior point guard Sarah Schmitt had a career-high 18 points and eight rebounds to help No. 38 Nebraska Kearney down Minnesota Crookston, 69-49, Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.

The game was part of a “MIAA/NSIC Crossover” Tournament as Northwest Missouri State outscored Southwest Minnesota State, 95-86, in the early game. UNK (2-1) battles SMSU tomorrow at 4 p.m. with Crookston facing Northwest at 2 p.m.

UNK held the Golden Eagles to just 13 first half points including two over the first 10 minutes. A young UMC squad was 6 of 29 from the field at the break including 1 of 10 from long distance. However, the Lopers weren’t hot early either as they missed 11 of its first 13 threes.

“They were kind of daring us to shoot threes (in the first half). We had a lot of open looks … sometimes that’s tricky because you’re so open and you want to shoot them. On days those are going in, you’re in business. On days they are not, you’re probably got to be a little bit more patient,” said UNK head coach Carrie Eighmey.
“Our first half defense was phenomenal. We paid attention to detail and executed the scout and game plan. We forced them into a lot of tough shots and didn’t allow offensive rebounds.”

The Lopers tallied the game’s first six points to never trail with Schmitt (Swisher, Ia.) scoring five in the first quarter and six more in the second. She finished the night 8 of 14 from the field (1 of 4 threes) with six of her caroms coming at the defensive end.

“Sarah has been playing really well for us and was super-efficient tonight. She did a good job of getting us into our stuff but also finding opportunities to get to the paint and having really good finishes around the rim,” said Eighmey. “Because of her size she probably shouldn’t come up with that many boards but she’s always in the mix.”

Crookston hit six second half threes and shot over 50% from the field over the final 20 minutes to hang around. The Golden Eagles whittled a 24-point deficit to a 59-44 score with 6:34 to play but missed its next two shots. A fast-break layup by Schmitt off a turnover made it 61-44 and the Loper lead only grew from there.

“While we’ve already played two games, I felt like we still had those first-game jitters especially on offense,” said Eighmey.

The Lopers ended the game plus 21 on the glass, leading to 15 second chance points, got 17 points off 18 UMC miscues and saw the bench provide 22 points and 19 rebounds. Besides Schmitt’s career-night, Kansas senior forward Elisa Backes at 12 points, five rebounds and two steals, Mullen sophomore reserve wing Samantha Moore provided six rebounds and four points with South Dakota senior Klaire Kirsch at nine points, five boards, two assists and two steals.

Eight different Golden Eagles scored with reserve Taryn Frazier with nine and 5-1 starter Emma Miller at eight. She also had six dimes and a steal.

For the Loper men the news wasn’t as good as the Bemidji State Beavers sunk 17 three pointers and had a plus nine rebounding margin to get past Nebraska Kearney, 96-90, Friday night in Duluth, Minn.

The game was part of the annual American Family Insurance Classic. The Lopers face tourney host and 7th-ranked Minnesota-Duluth Saturday at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs rolled Southern Arkansas, 93-74, in Friday’s late game.

UNK had one of its best three-point shooting nights in school history, sinking 15 of 33 attempts. The make total is two off the school-record with four different players making at least one. However, BSU was 17 of 27 from behind the arc to lead for about 30 minutes. 

The Beavers scored nine of the first 11 points and was up 28-18 midway through the first half before the Lopers got hot and went on a 15-5 run. The spurt, obviously, featured triples as forward Ryder Kirsch (Rapid City, S.D.) and guard Cam Binder (Auburn) each nailed one. While BSU opened up another small lead, a Binder half-court three at the buzzer made it 49-48 Beavers at the break.

Finishing the game shooting 56% from the field, UNK dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half as they held leads of 64-58 and 73-63. However, Bemidji grabbed the lead back on the strength of a 24-12 run that included six threes. That made it 87-85 with 3:13 to play but the Lopers came back once again. A triple by Denver sophomore Tom Connelly at the 1:23 mark made it 90-89 UNK.   

BSU tallied the final seven points, however, as fifth-year senior guard Mohamed Kone knocked down a triple and then made a layup with 46 seconds left. That made it 93-90 with UNK misfiring on its next possession. Kone finished the scoring by going 3 of 4 at the line. He ended with a team-high 24 points, thanks to 5 for 5 triple shooting, while also having six assists.

Four other Beaver starters and a reserve reached double figures including 6-5 sophomore guard Brandon Christlieb (20) and 6-6 grad reserve RJ Smith (10). He also had a game-best 11 boards.  

A transfer from South Dakota Mines, Kirsch had a team-best 24 points thanks to 9 of 19 (4 of 10 threes) shooting. He also had six rebounds and four dimes. Next, Connelly hit 6 of 8 threes to score a career-best 20 with Utah super senior Darrian Nebeker working around foul trouble to have 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Finally, Binder went 4 of 6 from behind the arc.

Source: Regional Sports