KEARNEY, Neb - The Northeastern State RiverHawks shot 54 percent from the field and sunk 11 three pointers to down Nebraska-Kearney, 70-61, Saturday evening at the Health & Sports Center.
NSU (7-8, 1-5) stops a nine-game losing streak to UNK (5-10, 0-6) who've now dropped six league games by a combined 29 points. The 'Hawks have suffered four MIAA losses by just 19 total points.
Leading from start to finish, the 'Hawks got 23 points and eight rebounds from senior guard Tanner Mouse and an unlikely 17 points and three assists from junior guard Bradley George. He came in with six made threes and 75 points on the season. Both Mouse and George had 13 points in the first half with the duo combining to go 8 of 12 from behind the arc. As a team NSU drilled 11 of 20 (55.0 pct.) from down town.
"They didn't miss. On Thursday night they got Hays down three points with less than a minute to go so obviously they are a good team," said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton. "They came in playing like team that wanted to win a game on the road. We came out flat, for whatever reason, and really didn't play defense to the level we expect. That allowed them to get off to a great start."
Besides Mouse and George, junior guard Trent Cantrell had seven of his 12 points after the break with 6-10 junior post Aaron Givens supplying seven rebounds, four points and two blocks. 25947
UNK outscored NSU 32-18 in the paint thanks to a career-high 18 points by sophomore forward Weston Baker Magrath (Marshall, Minn.). However, the Lopers were trading two pointers for three pointers all night long and never caught the 'Hawks. Kearney, going a super 14 of 15 at the line, made just 3 of 18 long range shots.
Cantrell sank a three as the first half buzzer to give his team a 41-29 lead. The cushion remained in double figures until a 10-3 Loper run made it 64-59 with 2:03 to play. UNK go two points closer a minute later but NSU got a layup from Bradley, his only bucket of the second half, with 39 seconds left to make it a two possession game. The Lopers missed a subsequent three and then Bradley made two freebies to put things on ice.
"We responded in the second and cut it to three late to give ourselves a chance. But when you give another team that much of an advantage from the start it's kind of hard to make that up," said Lofton. "First half I didn't recognize our team. Second half that's the team that scrapped at Southwest Baptist and Central Missouri trying to find a way to get a win."
Baker Magrath went 8 of 12 from the field and 2 of 2 at the line to reach his point total. He also blocked three shots and had two steals in 28 minutes. Kearney freshman Kanon Koster (14) and Alliance sophomore Austin Luger (12) reached double figures as well with Luger grabbing a team-best seven rebounds. Finally, Lincoln sophomore Sam Morris came off the disabled list for the first time since mid-November and had three rebounds and an assist in 12 minutes
"We can't have a case of the 'poor me' (attitude) because things aren't going our way right now. We've had a lot of games come down to the wire that we haven't been able to pull out. Eventually that takes a toll but at the same time we have 13 games left. We have to get guys better moving forward and giving the max effort that we ask for each and every practice and game," said Lofton.
UNK heads to Washburn (11-3, 4-1) on Wednesday night.