Kearney, Neb. – Five reserves scored in double figures and Nebraska-Kearney used a big third quarter to roll past Central Christian College, 87-48, Monday night at the Health & Sports Center.
The Lopers improve to 2-0 while the Tigers, a NAIA independent from McPherson, Kan., remain 0-4. By NAIA rules, this game served as an exhibition for CCC.
UNK tallied an incredible 77 bench points as four starters – Michaela Barry, McKenzie Brown, Alyssa Frauendorfer and Jenna Gillespie – played just the opening minutes of the first quarter. The Lopers fifth starter, junior forward Jaymie Bernbeck (Garden City, Kan.), had seven rebounds and five points in 10 minutes.
Kearney finished the night shooting 56 percent (32 of 75) from the field and 70 percent (19 of 27) from the line. Tallying 25 points in the third quarter and 23 in the first, UNK grabbed the third most rebounds (63) in school history. Twenty of those came at the offensive end and led to 14 points.
Defensively, UNK forced 18 turnovers and held the Tigers to a five-point third quarter and 26 percent shooting (20 of 78) overall. Next, all 13 healthy Lopers took to the court with 11 scoring and nine logging at least 10 minutes. Finally, four UNK players made their collegiate debuts.
“Early in the season you’re always looking for opportunities to play the newcomers and your young kids. I thought they did a really good job of stepping in and, for several of them, this was their very first college game. They were a little nervous at first but settled in and were much more comfortable,” said UNK head coach Carrie Eighmey.
Reserve post Logan Prater (Colorado Springs) went 9 of 11 from the field to score a team-high 19 points in just 16 minutes of work. Also grabbing five rebounds (three offensive), Prater is a standout thrower on the track team. Last year, she was an NCAA provisional qualifier in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“We have some talented kids. Especially in the second half, we did a much better job of being patient, sharing the ball and trying to work for a really good shot,” said Eighmey. “Logan did a really good job in the paint and finished a lot of shots around the rim. We did a good job of getting her the ball and giving her opportunities.”
Freshman guard Kelsey Sanger (Crofton) had the other hot hand, sinking 7 of 9 shots to score 15, with freshman post Abby Bird (Overland Park, Kan.) managing 12 points, 10 rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.
In the backcourt, freshman Kyleigh Vaught (Smithton, Ill.) almost recorded a double double as well as she had 10 rebounds and eight assists with freshman Adreon Bell (Independence, Mo.) hitting two threes to score 10. Finally, redshirt sophomore post Kennedy Sander (Lincoln Pius X) supplying 12 points and eight boars (six offensive).
“At the half, I told them we have several things we needed to do better so it was easy to keep them motivated,” said Eighmey. “You want your team to play at a certain standard, regardless of who you’re playing against. I thought we could take better shots and wanted them to defend without fouling and take away the three point shot.”
Central Christian, which will play two Division I and five Division II teams this year, saw freshman post Kassidy Forsberg have 10 points and 10 rebounds.
UNK heads to Hays, Kan., this weekend to face the Newman Jets (Fri.) and Colorado-Colorado Springs Mountain Lions (Sat.).