Lopers roll past Tigers in home opener

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Kearney, NE -- The Nebraska-Kearney women's basketball team scored 28 points in both the second and third quarters to roll past Central Christian (Kan.) College, 95-66, Wednesday night at the Health & Sports Center.

This was UNK's home opener. Beating the Tigers for a second straight season, the Lopers improve to 1-2 while CCC remains 0-4 as this was an exhibition game per NAIA rules.

Kearney led 8-7 five minutes in, 18-11 at the end of the first quarter and 29-20 midway through the second. Using a series of fast break layups, the Lopers closed the half on a 17-7 run and never looked back.

"We did a good job with our transition offense. We were able to push it, put pressure on them, shoot easy shots and also limited out transition turnovers," said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. "Our turnovers came more in the half court from a little bit of their defensive pressure and a little bit of us speeding ourselves up."

UNK shot 53% (35 of 66) from the field, 73% from the line (19 of 26), was plus 18 on the glass and got 48 points off its bench. The Lopers also tallied 27 fast break points with just over half its point total coming in the paint.

"Overall, transition offense and defense were pretty solid. Our half-court defense is getting better and each and every time we go out our communication is getting better," said Eighmey. "We're still fouling too much. In close games it's important to be able to defend and contest shots without fouling."

All 12 healthy Lopers appeared in the game with 11 scoring, 10 recording an assist and all 12 grabbing at least one board. The 28 assists are eighth most in school history as UNK not only showed great balance but also shared the ball.

Individually, freshman forward Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Hill, Ia.) had a team-high 16 points in 21 minutes. She made all six shots she took while also having five boards and two steals. Next, sophomore guard Kelsey Sanger (Crofton) had 14 points and three assists with freshman guard Klaire Kirsch (Rapid City, S.D.) at a game-high 13 rebounds (12 defensive), five points and four assists.

"Shiloh was really solid … she does a lot of good things. Klaire was a beast on the boards," said Eighmey. "Kelsey has a bit of a different role for us this year and she was good tonight too.

Off the bench, freshman post Brooke Carlson (Elkhorn H.S.) had 12 points and three assists with freshman forward Elisa Backes (Salina, Kan.) supplying 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting.

CCC was led by forward Holly Golden (game-high 20 points) and guard Piper Kalthoff (17 points & four steals).

Kearney hosts NAIA Bethel College (Kan.) Monday night.