UNK men’s basketball holds off Haskell Indian Nations
KEARNEY, Neb. (Press Release) - The Nebraska Kearney men’s basketball team scored 56 second half points, thanks to 68 percent shooting, to down Haskell Indian Nations (Kan.), 94-87, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers start the year 2-0 at home while the Fighting Indians from Lawrence, Kan., remain 2-6 as this was an exhibition game per NAIA rules.
UNK was short-handed as starters Ryder Kirsch (Rapid City, SD) and Sean Evans (Parker, Colo.) were out due to injury, joining redshirt freshman guard Braden Boley (Parker, Colo.). All three will hopefully return to the court in the coming weeks with Evans possibly available for Saturday’s afternoon battle against Wayne State.
”Two of our top three scorers were out so obviously it’s going to be a little tighter than you want,” said UNK head coach Kevin Lofton. “We talked to a Coach who played (Haskell) two weeks ago. He told me exactly what to expect. They can shoot the ball well, they play well together, make good passes, they get out and get into the passing lanes. They try to muck it up and basically that’s what they did in the first half.”
Haskell went 12 of 29 from behind the arc, tallied 26 points off 18 Loper turnovers and led by as many as 11 in the first half. Sophomore guard Trey Gaines (11) and junior guard Bansi King (10) combined for 21 first half points with UNK whittling the deficit to four, 42-38, by the break.
”They did what we told our guys they were going to do but when you’re going with a lineup we haven’t used all year, it’s going to look a little ugly for a while,” said Lofton. “The group that played the second half figured it out. They stepped up and made shots when they had to make them.”
The Lopers came in 42 of 94 (45%) from three-point land on the young season and were at it again tonight, making 14 of 29 long range shots. Kearney was an even 8 of 16 in the second half with Auburn redshirt freshman Cam Binder 3 for 5 and Colorado sophomore Tom Connelly 3 for 6.
”We found a way to get our offense run with guys that were out of position. I give Haskell credit for coming in and shooting the ball well and play with urgency and really doing a good job,” said Lofton. “I also credit our guys for standing up when we were a little short-handed. We had guys that maybe hadn’t played a lot in the first three games come in and find a way to contribute.”
Utah super senior forward Darrian Nebeker sunk a three from the right wing with 13:17 remaining to knot things up at 54. UNK then went on a 20-9 run that featured threes by Binder and Connelly and a three-point play from New Zealand senior Matt Brien.
The Loper lead remained in double digits for the next 10 minutes and got as big as 15 points before the Indians took advantage of some turnovers and then made shots. King’s fifth and final triple of the night made it 89-83 with 1:32 left. While UNK missed a shot 36 seconds later, Nebeker grabbed an o-board which led to a three from Connelly. Haskell didn’t get closer than six the rest of the way.
Connelly (23) led UNK in scoring by making 7 of 14 threes while also grabbing six defensive rebounds. Nebeker (15 points, 13 assists) had a double double with Brien (10) and fellow Kiwi Sean Murphy (13) scoring in double figures as well. Off the bench, Binder had 16 points with Wahoo forward Winston Cook at 10.
”The rebounds and put-backs Sean had, the drive to the basket late. Hopefully, that gives him a huge shot in the arm,” said Lofton. “Cam came in and gave us huge minutes and Winston drove to the basket a couple of times and was active for us.”
King was at a game-high 28 points thanks to 11 of 20 (5 of 13 threes) shooting. He had 18 in the second half and also had three of the Indians nine steals. Next, Gaines finished with 21 on 9 of 15 (2 of threes) shooting. Finally, Haskell had five others between five and 11 points.
Wayne is 2-1 after a 76-68 home win over York University on Wednesday night. The come to town Saturday at 2 p.m.
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