March 20, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

Lopers Split In Oklahoma

Kearney, Neb. – Super senior forward Elisa Backes scored a season-high 24 points and No. 12 Nebraska Kearney went on a 21-0 third quarter run to blast Central Oklahoma, 85-44, Thursday night in Edmond.

The Lopers (21-3, 14-2) win an eighth straight game and sweep the season series from the Bronchos (7-12, 4-11). UNK also picks up a rare win in Edmond (3-8 overall).

Tonight’s game was delayed close to 25 minutes as the third official was running late; Oklahoma and Texas have battled ice storms in the last week with UCO having a delayed start this morning. Additionally, both teams were a bit shorthanded, UNK minus starting guard Trinity Law and UCO without starting forward Alazha Knapp. Law (Brandon, S.D.) can hopefully return to the court in the coming weeks.

“We had a little bit of a delay in the start and that’s always hard. We asked our team what they wanted to do and they wanted to get going,” said UNK assistant coach Devin Eighmey on the KRVN Radio post-game show. “We got a path we’re trying to stay on. Our team did an outstanding job tonight and we’re really proud of them.”

After dominating nationally-ranked Missouri Western State by a 91-55 score last Saturday, UNK had a sequel performance as they got out to a 24-8 first quarter lead and were still up 16 at the break. A 15-point lead then ballooned to 36 as a triple from point guard Sarah Schmitt (Swisher, Ia.) began a rare three touchdown run. Backes (Salina, Kan.) scored eight straight in this stretch with substitute starter Meg Burns (Ankeny, Ia.) adding a triple.

“We got into a flow. They hit us with a soft 2-2-1 (zone) back to a 2-3 and we were able to make a lot of shots,” said Eighmey. “Everybody is throwing everything at us.”

UNK finished 14 of 34 from behind the arc; they set a program record for threes in a MIAA game (15) on Saturday. Going 15 of 29 from two-point land, the Lopers saw Backes tie her triple career-high (six) with Burns knocking down three and Schmitt two.

At the other end of the floor, UCO shot just 26% (15 of 57) and was out rebounded by 24. That included 14 Loper o-boards that led to 18 points. Finally, UNK recorded 18 points off 13 ‘Chos turnovers.

“We’ve played really well the last two games. We have really good players and they are invested. We’re trying to take steps forward,” said Eighmey. “They were locked in and focused tonight.”

Backes, who tallied a career-high 30 against UCO in February 2021, reached her point total by making 9 of 15 shots. She also had seven boards and three blocks. Next, Iowa redshirt junior forward Shiloh McCool had her 17th career double double (12 points, 10 rebounds), Burns (11) reached double figures in her first career start and South Dakota super senior Klaire Kirsch had team-highs in rebounds (15) and assists (five). Finally, Schmitt had 14 points on four free throws and four field goals.

UCO was placed by junior guard Aliyah Llanusa (14) and sophomore Karly Wadsworth who combined for 26 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. The pair also went 4 of 7 from behind the arc.

The Lopers head to Newman on Saturday afternoon. The Jets (6-14, 3-12) were tied with Fort Hays State at 67 all in the late going but fell, 84-77.  

Kearney, Neb. – The No. 4th/6th-ranked Central Oklahoma Bronchos closed on a25-4 run to pull away from Nebraska Kearney, 81-55, Thursday night in Edmond.

The ‘Chos (20-2, 14-2) bounce back from a loss last Saturday at Missouri Southern while the Lopers (4-17, 2-12) are still searching for its first-ever win in Edmond, falling in all 11 tries.

“They are a good team but I felt like we played like a good team for much of the first half. Five-point swing hurt us right before the break,” said UNK head coach Kevin Lofton on the KRVN Radio post-game show. “We went in down nine but we came back to cut it to four at a certain point in the second half.”

Slowing the pace down and once again getting big efforts from Utah super senior Darrian Nebeker (16 points, two assists, two blocks) and Colorado sophomore Sean Evans (14 points, four rebounds), UNK hung around for 30 minutes. Despite foul trouble up and down the lineup, the Lopers made it a 56-51 game after Colorado sophomore Tom Connelly found Evans for layup with 11:14 to play.

However, the ‘Chos then made its biggest move of the night, scoring 25 of the game’s final 29 points. A balanced attack featured five double figures scorers, led by sophomore guard Jaden Wells (20) and 6-6 senior wing Camryn Givens (18). They combined to go 14 of 24 from the field and grabbed nine boards. 

“We battled and put ourselves right there but then they spurted. We were getting looks that we wanted … around the rim, open 15 and 18 footers. But just couldn’t get anything to go,” said Lofton.

UCO made half its shots (29 of 58), was plus seven on the glass and tallied 21 points off 16 Loper miscues. UNK shot 42% but made only two of its last 11 attempts.

“You can’t have turnovers against a team like this if you’re going to upset them. That’s what we were setting our mind to do,” said Lofton. “We just didn’t want to play them close, we wanted to upset them. When you’re down four (51-47) in the second half you’re in the neighborhood but we just didn’t have enough.”

Nebeker went over 900 career points as a Loper by making 5 of 12 shots (1 of 3 threes). Evans (6 of 12) had similar numbers with Connelly grabbing a team-best nine rebounds. He also went 3 of 6 from behind the arc. Finally, Wahoo senior forward Winston Cook worked around four fouls to provide 11 points and six boards off the bench. UNK heads to Wichita on Saturday night to face Newman

Source: Regional Sports