Kearney, Neb. – The 28th-ranked Nebraska Kearney women’s basketball team scored the first 16 points and never looked back in a 77-48 win over Graceland (Ia.) University Wednesday afternoon at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers improve to 6-1 while the Yellowjackets remain 4-2 as this was an exhibition game per NAIA rules. UNK has one more non-conference game left, Saturday’s 6 p.m. tilt with the College of St. Mary. That game was originally set tip at 2 p.m.
UNK led 16-0 seven minutes into today’s contest and by a 26-3 margin at the end of the first quarter. However, the ‘Jackets responded and it was 51-45 ball game the rest of the way. Forward Heaven Mbaruk (19 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) and guard LaPhina Campbell (eight points, four assists) led the way for GU from Lamoni, Ia.
“I thought we had a really good first quarter. Defensively we were overwhelming … got a lot of deflections, created a lot of turnovers. And then they settled in and got a little bit more confident,” said UNK head coach Carrie Eighmey. “They competed well and have a couple of good athletes. They did a good job of getting a shot up and getting some offensive rebounds.”
After shooting 61% (11 of 18) in the opening quarter, UNK fell off to 28% (5 of 18) in the third. The Lopers finished up with nine threes, was plus 11 on the glass and got 44 bench points. Thirteen different players scored with 14 taking the court. Super senior forward Elisa Backes (Salina, Kan.) had a team-high 16 thanks to three triples with reserve point guard Halle Duft (South Weber, Utah) tallying nine and handing out three assists.
“They hit some tough shots during a couple of stretches. It’s one of those games where when you come out and have the success that you have, that can change your own mindset,” said Eighmey. “We got a little bit less aggressive, relaxed a bit and gave up some easier stuff.”
Four Lopers had either five or six rebounds including super senior post Brooke Carlson (Elkhorn) and junior wing Meg Burns (Ankeny, Ia.). Next, five players had at least two assists with the defense limiting GU to a 4 of 15 effort from behind the arc. The ‘Jackets also went to the line only seven times. Finally, Burns and forward Lexi Moes (Smithville, Mo.) had eight points apiece in coming off the bench.
“I thought several of them (reserves) played really well. They played hard, came in ready to go and were able to execute a lot of things offensively,” said Eigmey. “It’s very valuable to be able to get some people game minutes, be able evaluate them and give them feedback about what they are going well and what they need to improve on in an actual game situation.”
Source: Regional Sports
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