UNK WBB: McCool Scores 29 But Lopers Fall in Warrensburg, 81-77

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Two-time All-American forward Brooke Littrell had a big fourth quarter to help Central Missouri slip past Nebraska Kearney, 81-77, Thursday night in Warrensburg. 

The Jennies (17-6, 11-6) avenge a 79-74 overtime loss to the Lopers (17-7, 11-7) earlier this year and improve to 9-1 at home vs. UNK since 2012-13. Finally, this is the eighth straight game in the series decided by 10 points or less.

Littrell came in averaging 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game but got into some foul trouble early on. She had just four points over the first three quarters but went for 14 in the final 10 minutes. She made all five shots she attempted, went 4 of 5 at the line and grabbed three rebounds.

"We battled hard but just some little things we're going to have to clean up. We gave Littrell three and ones to end the game," said UNK head coach Drew Johnson on the KRVN Radio post-game show. "We didn't guard well enough; we can't give up 26 free throws and 15 second chance points to our four isn't going to work."

UNK appeared to have its biggest lead of the night, 63-57, after junior wing Meg Burns (Ankeny, Ia.) hit a corner three at the end of the third. However, a video review between quarters wiped the points off the board due to a shot clock violation. UCM then went on a 9-2 run to lead 73-66 with 3:57 to play. The spurt featured five Littrell points and a bucket from All-MIAA guard Olivia Nelson.

The Lopers, however, weren't done as they used a 5-0 run to erase a 77-70 deficit with less than two minutes remaining. After a Nelson miss, UNK had a chance to tie things with 34 seconds left but forward Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Hill, Ia.) went 1 of 2 at the line. UCM returned the favor as post Graycen Holden missed two freebies with 15 seconds left and the Jens up 79-77. Out of timeouts, UNK raced down the court with a 14-footer from Burns hitting iron instead of net. The Jens, this time, made both of its freebies to finish the scoring.

"We love the broken floor right there and she had a good look at it," said Johnson. "Proud of the execution at the moment since we were out of timeouts."

McCool had 19 points in the first half and 10 more in the second to have a new career-high point total. While her streak of seven double doubles came to an end (six rebounds), she had 10 buckets and nine freebies tonight. Her previous career-best of 25 points came last season vs. Central Oklahoma.

"She was unbelievably good. We probably didn't get her the ball enough in the fourth, but we couldn't seem to get her any space," said Johnson. "She was so heady the way she played and attacked. She made a lot of right decisions … when to kick it, when not to."

Besides Littrell, three other starters and Holden (10) scored in double figures. Nelson had 18 on 7 of 12 shooting with UNO transfer Lauren Frost (12 points, eight assists) and post Ashley Tull (14 points, nine rebounds) close to double doubles. Tull missed the game in Kearney due to injury. Finally, the Jennies had advantages in second chance, bench and fast break points.

Besides McCool's heroics, junior wing Samantha Moore (Mullen) had 13 points, Burns tallied 14 and five assists with post Bailee Sobczak (Rapid City, S.D.) at nine points and nine rebounds (three offensive).

"When we were a really tough team, we were really guarding to the scouting report," said Johnson. "We've got to get back to that just a little bit."

UNK heads to Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Tigers (6-17, 2-15) lost to Fort Hays State tonight, 75-47.