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The Antelope

Lopers men get third MIAA win against Central Missouri

Senior Winston Cook. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

The UNK men’s basketball team ended a two-game losing skid on Thursday against Central Missouri. The Lopers were able to prevail in a close game against the Mules, 78-72.

Even though there were only three lead changes, the game was close all the way through and the biggest lead was by Central Missouri with seven points. 

“We were mentally tough as far as we played 40,” said UNK coach Kevin Lofton. “It wasn’t always the best but we found a way to play for 40 minutes and play a little bit of a higher level for longer stretches.”

With the game tied at 55 with 7:34 left, Loper guard Jaleque Dunson hit a three-pointer to give UNK a lead. Darrian Nebeker would follow it up a few possessions later to put the Lopers up by five. 

UNK maintained the lead for the rest of the game and did not let the late press by Central Missouri faze them.

“We’ve had times where we’ve struggled,” Lofton said. “I felt like when we got the ball in guys were strong with it. When they got fouled they made their free throws. For a bunch of sophomores on the floor, and that is what we had, I thought their composure was pretty good.”

The Lopers were led by Sean Evans with 23 points. Tom Connelly added 17 points, Dunson had 14 and Nebeker finished with 13. Ryder Kirsch was an assist short of a double-double with nine assists and 10 rebounds. 

“Ryder did a really great job of attacking the basket and finding open cutters,” Lofton said. “Tonight he had nine assists. That’s big time.”

UNK turned around to take on Lincoln on Saturday. The Lopers were overmatched by the big-bodied Blue Tigers, losing 63-49.

Lincoln forward Kevin Kone leads Division II in rebounds per game averaging 12.5. He continued his dominant ways against the Lopers, snatching 21. 

“Neither team was burning the nets up so it kind of became a bully-ball game,” Lofton said. “A game of who was going to get rebounds and manufacture points in the paint. They did a good job of that.”

Nebeker led the Lopers with 25 points. The Lopers shot 37% from the field and went 2-20 on 3-pointers. They hit their first 3-pointer with seven minutes left in the game. 

With the loss, the Lopers remain in last place in the MIAA standings. UNK will travel to take on Missouri Southern on Thursday and Pittsburg State on Saturday.

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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