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Big Night For UNK Men & Women

Big Night For UNK Men & Women
UNK Knocked Off Northwest Missouri-Photo Courtesy UNK Sports

Kearney, Neb. – Senior guard Lane Rohrich tallied 24 points and senior forward Trey Lansman added 19 and seven rebounds to help Nebraska-Kearney stun No. 2 Northwest Missouri State, 66-59, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. UNK (7-10, 3-5), hosting the Bearcats for the first time since January 2014, hands the defending national champion just its third loss over the last two years. Northwest (15-2, 7-2) came in having won 50 of its last 52 games with both setbacks coming at Missouri Southern State. “In the pregame speech, I told the guys I was fortunate enough to have been on the bench when we beat Fort Hays State when they were number one and had a long win streak going. I told them I felt like we had that in us if we played right and they came out and did that,” said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton The Lopers led by as many as 13 points and didn’t trail over the final 36 minutes. Still minus starting point guard Yashua Trent (Chicago) and reserve forward Austin Luger (Alliance), UNK was plus nine on the glass, hit seven threes and limited one of the MIAA’s most efficient offenses. The ‘Cats came in leading the league in field goal percentage (51) and threes made (11) but shot 36 percent tonight and went 4 of 15 from the arc. “The key was defense and rebounding.

Our guys really got down and guarded and didn’t give them many second chance opportunities,” said Lofton. “We had so many guys give us quality minutes. Offensively, we didn’t have a lot of turnovers and made a good percentage of our free throws.” Rohrich (Pierce) not only went 10 of 12 from the field (2 of 4 threes) and 2 of 3 at the line but also guarded the nation’s best player, Justin Pitts. The reigning D2 Player of the Year came with career averages of 25 points and five assists against the Lopers but was limited to 14 points and two assists tonight. A 50 percent shooter on the year, the 5-10, 150 pound guard was 4 of 16 from the field (0 for 3 threes) and had three turnovers. Freshman reserve post Weston Baker Magrath (Marshall, Minn.) was one of several Lopers to greet Pitts at the rim and he tallied three of UNK’s four blocks. Rohrich had the other as Northwest saw fellow starters Chris-Ebou Ndow (13) and Brett Dougherty (11) reach double figures on four made field goals apiece. “Lane really had a huge game. He’s been our point guard since Yashua got hurt. He’s had to play a lot of heavy minutes and tonight that meant guarding the best player in the country on one end of the court and then find a way to get into the lane on the other end. That’s what Yashua does for us and he did that and then hit some really big (perimeter) shots. One was a “Hail Mary” (28-foot three pointer),” said Lofton. UNK got out to a 24-11 lead before two threes rimmed out. Northwest stole that momentum, finishing the half on a 15-6 run.

The Lopers got the lead up to nine and then 11 in the second half before the ‘Cats second big spurt. A floater by Pitts made it 59-55 with 47 seconds left and capped a 10-4 run. With Rohrich and Trent out, the Lopers had to break the Northwest full-court pressure with a forward heavy-lineup. They did as junior guard Isaiah McKay (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and junior forward Carter Burns (Ankeny, Ia.) played a little give-and-go with McKay converting a three-point play to ice things. Four Burns free throws got the lead to nine and members of the Loper football team stormed the court, a rare occurrence on the Buckle Court. Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) reached his point total by making six shots (three threes) and three free throws with York senior Ty Danielson (nine points, seven boards and three assists) close to a double double. “Trey does what he always does and you kind of take that for granted,” said Lofton. “The seniors really stepped up tonight and that’s what you need to beat a team like that.” UNK hosts the Missouri Western State Griffons on Saturday. Mo West (3-13, 1-8) has lost seven in a row after a 61-42 decision tonight at Fort Hays State.

Kearney, Neb. – Senior guard Michaela Barry scored 43 points, tying a school record, to help Nebraska-Kearney rally past Northwest Missouri State in double overtime, 88-79, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center. UNK (13-3, 5-3) is now 8-0 at home, winning three of those games in overtime. The Lopers picked up an additional OT win over Newman on a neutral court to be the only team in the program’s 50-year history to have played four extra session games in one season. Having won five of six, the eight-game win home streak is the longest in a decade. Northwest (1-16, 0-9) came in riding a 13-game skid but has given UNK problems in the past and that continued tonight. The Lopers shot around 30 percent from the field and 60 percent at the line for most of the night while the Bearcats were making 12 three pointers, often late in the shot clock. “Honestly, I didn’t feel like we weren’t ready to play the game or we weren’t focused. They just had a really good strategy … in the first half, they iced the game.

They had long offensive possessions and then dagger us with a three in the last five or 10 seconds of the shot clock. We guarded well for 25 or 30 seconds, get deflated and then didn’t have patience on the offensive end. The combination of those things made for a long game,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. Barry (Battle Creek) carried a Loper offense that shot better from the field as the game went along. She amassed her point total by going 15 of 34 (3 of 9 threes) from the field and 10 of 11 at the line. The 34 shots break a 36-year old record as Cathy Weir got off 33 in a 1982 OT win over Fort Hays State. Averaging 15.2 points per game coming in, Barry fittingly scored 11 of UNK’s 13 points in the second overtime. Her runner made it 82-79 with 2:19 to play and then she salted things away by making four free throws in the final 37 seconds. “I had no idea how many points Michaela had. Late, we were looking for her since she obviously had the hot hand,” said Eighmey. “That’s the thing about this team; last week it was McKenzie, tonight it was Michaela and Saturday it might be someone else.” Barry also had team-highs in minutes (47), rebounds (10), steals (five) and had one assist and one turnover. This marks her first career double double as a Loper. Guard Darcy Stracke is the only other Loper women’s player to have tallied 40 points in a game. She had 43 in a November 1998 win over Nebraska-Omaha and then a few days later went for 41 to beat Fort Hays State. Both games went 40 minutes. “In the second half, we more patient on offense. Defensively, we changed some things up but they shot the ball extremely well and had 12 threes to just our three. That makes it tough to come back,” said Eighmey. Barry never would’ve joined in Stracke in the 40-point club had it not been for reserves posts Katey Brown (Craig) and Kennedy Sander (Lincoln Pius X). After trailing by four points on two different occasions in the first OT period, the Lopers were down 75-73 with 23 seconds left. Senior McKenzie Brown (G.I. Northwest) missed a shot in the lane but Brown rebounded the loose ball with 10 to go. On the play, Katey Brown was poked in the eye and had to come out.

Despite sitting for a long while, Sander came in a knocked down both freebies. Northwest had a chance to win at the buzzer but a long three by Mallory McAndrews bounced around the rim and fell to the floor. UNK had the same thing happen in regulation as McKenzie Brown’s long three from the left wing nicked the front iron. “Our team is tough. They’ll find a way and they never quit. I’m really proud of them for their effort and willingness to keep battling,” said Eighmey. UNK needed a furious rally to even get to Brown’s three. Trailing for 34 minutes on the night and by 10 with 4:00 to play, the Lopers ramped up the defensive pressure and went to a zone. The switch resulted in five Northwest turnovers with a layup from Barry knotting things up at 66 with 39 seconds left. “We felt like we needed something to mix it up. They were doing well in the post and on the perimeter and we had some foul trouble in the post. We went zone and stayed in it a quite a while. They hit a couple of threes but we got a lot of empty possessions out of it,” said Eighmey. Besides Barry, UNK was 15 of 45 from the field. Sander (13) had her sixth double digit effort of the year thanks to four buckets and five freebies with Brown having her best game (six points and three offensive boards) as a Loper. Also, reserve guard Adreon Bell (Independence, Mo.) was huge late and tallied five points, three assists, two steals and two boards in 16 minutes. This trio led to a 25-9 advantage in bench points for Kearney. “It’s not easy to be out of the game for 35 minutes and get thrown in there the last five minutes. Adreon just didn’t help out but she changed the game and caused a lot of havoc on the ball. That resulted in some run out possessions for us, which we really needed,” said Eighmey. “Katey has made a ton of progress, had a couple of nice drives and some big offensive rebounds.” Northwest, finishing with 22 turnovers and a 12 of 33 effort from behind the arc, had four starters in double figures. Senior forward Tanya Meyer led that group with a double double (27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists). Finally, UNK made 25 of 37 free throws with the ‘Cats going 7 of 10. The Lopers rank among the nation’s best at not fouling, averaging 13 per game and 11 free throw attempts by the opponent. Tonight’s 24 fouls are a season-high. UNK hosts Missouri Western State Saturday afternoon. The Griffons (10-8, 3-6) have lost five straight after a 58-36 setback tonight at Fort Hays State.

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