Peter Yazvac, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
EDMOND, Okla. – The Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team took advantage of 21 turnovers and held Central Oklahoma to 23 percent field goal shooting to post a 63-43 win Saturday afternoon.
The Lopers (4-0) have now held all four opponents under 55 points. UCO (2-2), who didn’t have a Thursday game this week, came in averaging 75 points and shooting 46 percent from the field.
“Our kids came in focused and were really locked in. (UCO) is a quality basketball team. I think they are a top three or four team in this league,” UNK assistant coach Devin Eighmey said on the KRVN Radio postgame show. “This is a big-time win.”
UNK got scoring from nine different players with six between eight and 10. Getting out to an early 12-4 lead, the Lopers made just three of 17 second quarter shots. That, along with some good foul shooting by the Bronchos, made it 22 all at the half. UCO six-three center Kelsey Johnson, coming in averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds a night, was dinged with two early fouls but her teammates out scored UNK 16-10 over the second 10 minutes.
“We liked where we were at halftime. It was 22-22 and I think we had six or seven more shot attempts. Ten of their 22 points came at the free throw line and we gave up some back breaking plays,” Eighmey said. “We came out in the third quarter and really established ourselves.”
The Lopers out scored the ‘Chos 41-21 in the second half, starting the third quarter on a 6-0 run. Redshirt sophomore Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Hill, Ia.) rebounded a missed free throw and found fellow reserve forward Madison Dreckman (Le Mars, Ia.) for a layup. That made it 35-27 with 1:26 left in the third and the lead just grew from there.
Crofton senior guard Kelsey Sanger scored UNK’s first five points in the fourth with the lead reaching 20 points, 56-36, with exactly four to play. UCO’s 21 turnovers led to 27 Kearney points with the ‘Chos going 0 of 15 from behind the arc. They finished just 12 of 52 from the field.
“We did a good job on Kelsey Johnson. Defensively, to hold them to 43 points, that was a clinic,” Eighmey said. “Offensively we got contributions from everywhere. That’s the hard thing about us … who do you take away?”
UNK shot 41% (23 of 56) and made 7 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter. Colorado point guard Haley Simental scored a team-high 10 thanks to two made threes with Sanger, South Dakota junior wing Klaire Kirsch and Wahoo junior reserve guard Aspen Jansa at nine apiece. Sanger made 4 of 5 shots, Jansa hit two treys with Kirsch grabbing 10 boards and a career-best seven steals. This marks her seventh career double double.
Johnson paced the ‘Chos with 15 points, nine rebounds (five offensive), an assist and steal. She logged 27 minutes in working around four fouls.
UNK hosts Rogers State (Friday) and Northeastern State (Sunday) next weekend.