UNK moves to 4-1

UNK moves to 4-1
Lopers win big at home. KRVN Photo
November 24th, 2021 | Peter Yazvac

Kearney, Neb. – Eleven different players scored and 11 players logged at least 12 minutes as No. 27 Nebraska-Kearney shut down the College of St. Mary, 59-34, Wednesday afternoon at the Health & Sports Center. The Lopers improve to 4-1 while the Flames from Omaha remain 8-2. Per NAIA rules, this was an exhibition contest for CSM who won at Hastings College Tuesday night. UNK held the Flames to 29% field goal shooting (14 of 48), forced 22 turnovers and was plus 12 on the glass. The Lopers never trailed and overcame a cold shooting performance (38%) by having 17 second chance points and 27 bench points. “We had an opportunity to get some younger players some good game experience. That was one of the beneficial things from this game,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. “Defensively we did a pretty good job. We were able to defend without fouling and that’s kind of been something we’ve been emphasizing. Avoiding putting people on the free throw line and they only shot six (freebies) today.” The news wasn’t all good for the Lopers as junior stalwart Klaire Kirsch (Rapid City, SD) was injured just 1:25 in the game. She didn’t return to the court and is questionable moving forward. On pace to became UNK’s all-time leading rebounder this season, Kirsch came in averaging 14.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 58% from the field. “Her injury messes up the rotations for sure. Klaire plays a chunk of minutes for us every game, is a vocal leader and is one of our best rebounders. It changes things for us,” said Eighmey. “It’s part of the game and is part of the reason why we have the depth that we have.”

The Lopers scored nine of the first 11 points with Iowa junior forward Maegan Holt converting a three-point play and Kansas junior forward Elisa Backes sinking two free throws and having a bucket in the paint. CSM did trail by just a 13-9 score after the first quarter but Kearney finished the half on a 20-3 run that saw the Flames go 1 of 9 from the field. Backes had a team-best 10 points in only 12 minutes of work with grad transfer and reserve forward Grace O’Neill (Boulder, Colo.) having a team-high eight rebounds, four points and three steals in 15 minutes of work. Next, junior post Brooke Carlson (Elkhorn) contributed six points and six caroms; she’s now up to 992 career points and will soon become the 27th Loper to reach the 1k milestone. Finally, Holt had eight points and two o-boards. Along the perimeter, sophomore guard Trinity Law (Brandon, SD) had seven points, five boards and three assists with freshman Samantha Moore (Mullen) at two rebounds and two dimes in 18 minutes. “All of our (reserves & young players) are talented and skilled players. It’s just being able to play at a different pace. The college game is faster, everybody it a little bit bigger, everybody is a little bit longer,” said Eighmey. “The benefits might not necessarily show up now but in the long run you’re going to have players on our bench that have gotten some big game minutes.” St. Mary was led by reserve Kennedy Lein who had seven points and drew two fouls. UNK hosts Chadron State (1-3) Saturday at 2 p.m.

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