Defending Central Region Champs Down UNK
Kearney, Neb. – Redshirt freshman post Brooke Littrell had 22 points and 18 rebounds to help Central Missouri down No. 4/9 Nebraska-Kearney, 58-52, Saturday evening at the Health & Sports Center.
The defending Central Region Champions, the Jennies improve to 10-6 (6-3) and to 11-2 all-time against the Lopers. UNK (12-2, 7-1) sees an 11-game win streak come to an end and drops its first home game of the year (7-1).
"It's one of those games where if you miss layups and don't make free throws against a good team you're going to have a hard time winning. It's pretty simple," said UNK head coach Carrie Eighmey.
UCM hit five threes in the first quarter and controlled the lane over the next 15 minutes to grab a 42-28 lead. Using just six players, the Jennies also got 19 points from point guard Oliva Nelson and 13 points and eight boards from post Nija Collier.
The Lopers went on a 22-6 run at the end of the third and the start of the fourth quarter to take a 50-48 lead. This stretch included nine points from reserve guard Sarah Schmitt (Swisher, Ia.), six from wing Klaire Kirsch (Rapid City, SD) and five from post Brooke Carlson (Elkhorn). However, the Lopers finished 3 of 11 from the line and went 1 of 8 from the floor over the last six minutes
"We made a good run but gave up a couple of offensive rebounds late that were big ones. If we were able to secure those, we would've had a chance to score it. Those ate up a lot of clock … we also missed a bunch of layups today and weren't great from the line," said Eighmey.
A Nelson layup with 2:44 left gave the Jens a 52-50 lead. After a defensive stop and an offensive rebound, UCM got two Littrell free throws to make it a two-possession game by the 1:52 mark. Back-to-back turnovers and a Carlson bucket gave UNK some hope but the Jens made two more freebies with 32 seconds remaining.
"Early on I'm not sure how great we were in contesting shots. Second half we asked our team we asked our team to protect the three-point line a little bit better," said Eighmey.
The Lopers out shot the Jennies but a 41-36% margin, were plus one on the glass and had a 14-0 advantage in bench points. The Jens sunk two more threes and held the UNK to under 14 points in three quarters.
"Offensively to start the game I thought we were a little off. We were missing the reads and settling for some shots where I thought we could get better. Second half we
did a better job of moving the ball and working together to get better shots," said Eighmey.
Kearney was paced by Carlson (19 points and nine boards) and Kirsch (13 rebounds and 10 points). This marks Kirsch's third double double of the year with the pair combining for 14 of UNK's 23 made field goals. Schmitt led the bench corps with nine points and three dimes in 24 minutes of work.
UNK heads to Missouri Western State (12-1, 6-1) and Northwest Missouri State (11-2, 6-1) next weekend.