Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team saw its 2019-20 season come to an end when it wasn’t selected for the 2020 NCAA Division II Tournament. The Lopers (26-6) entered the weekend ranked ninth in the Central Region; the top eight teams in each of D2’s eight regions qualify for the tournament. The conference tournament winners from the MIAA, NSIC (Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conf.) and GAC (Great American Conf.) receive automatic bids. This year those teams were Central Missouri, St. Cloud State and Southeastern Oklahoma State. SCSU likely “stole” a bid by winning the NSIC Tournament earlier this week as the Huskies were ranked 10th in the most recent region rankings. SEOSU also was on the bubble as they came into the weekend ranked seventh.
UNK beat NCAA qualifier Fort Hays State and Missouri Western State (21-8) twice and had wins against NCAA qualifier Emporia State, Central Oklahoma (18-10), Washburn (18-12), and Wayne State (16-13). However the FHSU Tigers had similar victories as well as non-conference ones over NCAA qualifiers Minnesota-Duluth and St. Anselm, Harding (19-10), and Concordia-St. Paul (15-14) with SWOSU having key wins against Pitt State and Washburn. The SW Okie win over the Gorillas likely was a huge factor in them getting the last at-large spot as UNK lost to PSU, 88-74, in early January. The Lopers end the year leading the MIAA in eight different categories and saw its entire starting five earn All-MIAA honors. Finishing in third place in the league standings UNK’s win total is tied for the third most in school history. The 1995-96 (26-5), 1997-98 (26-4) and 1998-99 (24-6) squads also won 26 games with the Loper standard being 28 (1996-97). Head coach Carrie Eighmey didn’t have a single senior on this year’s team with graduate transfer and point guard Haley Simental (Pueblo West, Colo.) granted a sixth year by the NCAA last month. Finally, current sophomore forward Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Valley, Ia.) sat out this winter due to injury after averaging 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season.