KEARNEY – The Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team shot 53 percent from the floor, hit 10 three pointers and took advantage of 29 turnovers to roll past Nebraska Christian College, 84-40, Saturday afternoon at the Health & Sports Center.
UNK improves to 6-4 while this was an exhibition game, per NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) rules, for the Papillion-based Sentinels (5-11).
All 12 Lopers who appeared in the game scored as Kearney held early leads of 18-7, 31-8 and 36-12. Facing a zone, UNK went 8 of 13 (61.5 pct.) from behind the arc in the first half to lead by 20 at the break.
“Early on I thought we gave up some easier stuff around the rim like uncontested layups. That’s one of things we don’t like to do. We did a better job of that in the second half but that’s an area they did a good job of exposing,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey.
NCC’s 29 turnovers led to 34 points with UNK also having 18 second chance point on just nine offensive caroms. Finally Kearney’s bench outscored the Sentinel reserves by a 50-5 margin.
“Our chemistry is getting better every week. We had a really good week of practice … five straight days after taking some time off for finals. This was a good week of growth for us, just being able to work on some stuff,” said Eighmey.
Offensively this marks the third time in the last five games the Lopers have reached double digits in treys. Six different players made at least one with four having two apiece. Defensively, NCC made just 33 percent (14 of 42) of its shots including a 2 of 12 effort from downtown. On the year, UNK’s opponents are shooting only 29 percent (47 of 165) from behind the arc.
Individually for the Lopers, Elkhorn reserve post Brooke Carlson had a season-high 17 points thanks to six made field goals and five made free throws. She also had two steals and grabbed five rebounds (three offensive). Next, Texas junior reserve guard Lauren O’Connell had 10 points and two offensive caroms with Crofton sophomore starter Kelsey Sanger at 12 points, three dimes and a steal in 23 minutes. Finally, Idaho reserve junior Cierra Dvorak chipped in with eight points, five steals, two boards and two assists.
“We’ve made a ton of progress from the first practice, from our first games until now. We’ve come a long way,” said Eighmey. “Certain players have gotten more comfortable in their roles … Kelsey is coming into her own in a different role than she was last year. She is more offensively minded although we do have to nudge her a little bit from time to time.”
NCC was led by 6-3 junior post Kayla Bloodworth (11 points, five rebounds, one assist).
UNK is now off until Saturday, December 29, when it hosts the York College Panthers. The Lopers will practice three times next week before the Division II moratorium begins December 19 and runs through December 26 (no D2 practices or games for winter sports teams).