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No. 14 UNK women’s basketball upset by Missouri Southern State

Local4 News at 6 Saturday
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 7:33 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (Press Release) - Freshman guard Lacy Stokes made back-to-back shots, her only made buckets in 14 attempts, in the final 1:51 to lift Missouri Southern State over No. 14 Nebraska-Kearney, 57-54, Saturday afternoon at the Health & Sports Center.

The Lions (12-5, 9-3) had one of the best weeks in recent NCAA Division II memory as they won at No. 2 Fort Hays State, 54-51, on Thursday night. They are on a five-game win streak and stopped a two-game losing streak to the Lopers (15-3, 10-2) today.

UNK got out to an 11-2 lead as the Lions started just 2 of 20 from the field. However, they used free throws and offensive rebounds to not only erase that deficit but grab a 24-20 halftime lead. MSSU then started to warm up a bit from the field while limiting the Lopers. They grabbed its biggest lead of the day early in the third quarter, 29-20, after sinking one of its five threes. However, UNK roared back with a 22-8 run to lead by five heading into the fourth.

”We got into foul trouble in the first half and that slowed us down a bit. We had a good first quarter but they made a big push in the second,” said UNK head coach Carrie Eighmey. “We withstood some punches in the second quarter and came out in the third and had a good little run.”

A back-and-forth final quarter saw redshirt junior Elisa Backes (Salina, Kan) converted a three-point play at the 2:38 mark to make it 51-49 Lopers. On the play, she lined in a free throw line jumper. However, junior Amaya Johns responded with a right wing three, only her 10th long range shot of the year, to quickly give MSSU the lead back. After Backes made two freebies, it was time for Stokes’ heroics. Averaging just under 10 points a game on the year, she missed her first 12 shots but grabbed her 12th miss and stuck the put-back and the ensuing free throw to give her team the lead for good.

UNK called timeout with Backes hitting one of two freebies at the 1:11 mark. The Lopers had a foul to give, committed it and then Stokes made a layup with 28 seconds remaining to make it 57-54. The end featured a missed Loper layup and a long range three after two missed freebies by the Lions.

”In the fourth we struggled to score it a little bit (3 of 13 from the field). The big thing overall was their offensive rebounds turned into 22 points. They only had 10 offensive rebounds but capitalized on almost all of them,” said Eighmey. “I don’t think we didn’t box out ... we had inside position a lot of times but for whatever reason couldn’t come up with the loose ball.”

MSSU had a 22-5 advantage in second chance points thanks to those 10 o-boards. UNK was actually plus two, 41-39, on the glass. Next, the Lions held the Lopers to 33% shooting, took advantage of 14 turnovers and had three score in double digits.

”They are physical (defensively). They are a good team and have been playing really well of late. They have a good point guard, good forwards,” said Eighmey. “They matchup well with us and offensively they made some plays today when they needed to.”

Stokes finished with 12 points (8 of 11 FT shooting) and 10 fouls drawn with post Madi Stokes at 15 points, eight boards and two blocks. Johns was big off the bench to the tune of 14 points in 24 minutes.

Backes paced Kearney with a team-best 14 points and six rebounds. She made two of UNK’s six three-pointers. Next, guard Trinity Law (Brandon, SD) had 10 points and six fouls drawn with wing Klaire Kirsch (Rapid City, SD) close to another double double (nine points & seven rebounds).

UNK heads to Northeastern State on Tuesday in a game that was originally set for early January but postponed due to COVID issues within the RiverHawks (4-12, 2-8) program.

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