March 27, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

UNK Men and Women Win On Tuesday Night

Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska Kearney men’s basketball team scored 56 second half points, thanks to 68 percent shooting, to down Haskell Indian Nations (Kan.), 94-87, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. The Lopers start the year 2-0 at home while the Fighting Indians from Lawrence, Kan., remain 2-6 as this was an exhibition game per NAIA rules.

UNK was short-handed as starters Ryder Kirsch (Rapid City, SD) and Sean Evans (Parker, Colo.) were out due to injury, joining redshirt freshman guard Braden Boley (Parker, Colo.). All three will hopefully return to the court in the coming weeks with Evans possibly available for Saturday’s afternoon battle against Wayne State.

“Two of our top three scorers were out so obviously it’s going to be a little tighter than you want,” said UNK head coach Kevin Lofton. “We talked to a Coach who played (Haskell) two weeks ago. He told me exactly what to expect. They can shoot the ball well, they play well together, make good passes, they get out and get into the passing lanes. They try to muck it up and basically that’s what they did in the first half.”

Haskell went 12 of 29 from behind the arc, tallied 26 points off 18 Loper turnovers and led by as many as 11 in the first half. Sophomore guard Trey Gaines (11) and junior guard Bansi King (10) combined for 21 first half points with UNK whittling the deficit to four, 42-38, by the break.

“They did what we told our guys they were going to do but when you’re going with a lineup we haven’t used all year, it’s going to look a little ugly for a while,” said Lofton. “The group that played the second half figured it out. They stepped up and made shots when they had to make them.”

The Lopers came in 42 of 94 (45%) from three-point land on the young season and were at it again tonight, making 14 of 29 long range shots. Kearney was an even 8 of 16 in the second half with Auburn redshirt freshman Cam Binder 3 for 5 and Colorado sophomore Tom Connelly 3 for 6.

“We found a way to get our offense run with guys that were out of position. I give Haskell credit for coming in and shooting the ball well and play with urgency and really doing a good job,” said Lofton. “I also credit our guys for standing up when we were a little short-handed. We had guys that maybe hadn’t played a lot in the first three games come in and find a way to contribute.”

Utah super senior forward Darrian Nebeker sunk a three from the right wing with 13:17 remaining to knot things up at 54. UNK then went on a 20-9 run that featured threes by Binder and Connelly and a three-point play from New Zealand senior Matt Brien.

The Loper lead remained in double digits for the next 10 minutes and got as big as 15 points before the Indians took advantage of some turnovers and then made shots. King’s fifth and final triple of the night made it 89-83 with 1:32 left. While UNK missed a shot 36 seconds later, Nebeker grabbed an o-board which led to a three from Connelly. Haskell didn’t get closer than six the rest of the way.

Connelly (23) led UNK in scoring by making 7 of 14 threes while also grabbing six defensive rebounds. Nebeker (15 points, 13 assists) had a double double with Brien (10) and fellow Kiwi Sean Murphy (13) scoring in double figures as well. Off the bench, Binder had 16 points with Wahoo forward Winston Cook at 10.

“The rebounds and put-backs Sean had, the drive to the basket late. Hopefully that gives him a huge shot in the arm,” said Lofton. “Cam came in and gave us huge minutes and Winston drove to the basket a couple of times and was active for us.”

King was at a game-high 28 points thanks to 11 of 20 (5 of 13 threes) shooting. He had 18 in the second half and also had three of the Indians nine steals. Next, Gaines finished with 21 on 9 of 15 (2 of threes) shooting. Finally, Haskell had five others between five and 11 points.

Wayne is 2-1 after a 76-68 home win over York University on Wednesday night. The come to town Saturday at 2 p.m.

Kearney, Neb. – Super senior forward Elisa Backes scored 22 points and Nebraska Kearney led almost from start to finish in a 71-60 win at Chadron State Thursday night.

UNK (4-1) is now 60-13 all-time against the Eagles (0-4) who lost to Wayne State on Wednesday.

The Lopers trailed for just 37 seconds as CSC made the first bucket of the night. A triple from Backes (Salina, Kan.) started a 7-0 run with UNK eventually holding a 13-point cushion midway through the second quarter. However, the Eagles cut the deficit to five before the Lopers regained control to lead 34-25 at the break.

Going 10 for 25 from long range and tallying 22 points of 13 CSC turnovers, the Lopers closed the third quarter on a 14-5 run. The stretch included threes from reserves Meg Burns (Ankeny, Ia.) and Samantha Moore (Mullen) with post Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Hill, Ia.) sinking free throws. That made the score 54-39 with a Backes three starting the final 10 minutes.

Chadron, getting 29 points and 11 rebounds from sophomore forward Ashayla Powers, whittled the deficit in half with five to go and UNK was forced to call timeout. While Powers went 1 of 2 at the line after the break, the Lopers didn’t let the Eagles get closer than that the rest of the way.

Backes made a career-high six triples, on 12 attempts, to reach her team-high point total while also having six boards and two assists. McCool (17) was the other Loper in double digits, making 5 of 6 shots and 7 of 9 freebies. She also had a team-best eight boards (six defensive) and two of UNK’s five steals. Off the bench, Burns had eight with Moore at six. Finally, Iowa junior point guard Sarah Schmitt got close to a double double (nine assists, eight points). 

UNK was plus three on the glass, committed three fewer turnovers than Chadron and went 13 of 19 at the line. Besides Powell’s heroics, the rest of the Eagles were 11 of 33 from the field.

The Lopers head to Colorado School of Mines (2-0) on Saturday night. The Orediggeres were picked to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conf. (RMAC) this year.

Source: Regional Sports