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The Antelope

The Antelope

Loper women win regular season MIAA Championship

Sarah Schmitt had nine assists against Fort Hays. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

Going into senior day, the Lopers knew they had the opportunity to win the MIAA regular season women’s basketball title outright. The intense emotions and an energetic crowd l propelled the Lopers to a 64-48 win over Fort Hays State. 

There was a sentimental pregame video of highlights for the seniors before the game, but they shrugged it off.

 “The video board was a little bit emotional before the game,” Eighmey said. “This team understands what they are playing for, and our experience helps us stay focused.” 

The Lopers got off to a hot start from behind the 3-point line as senior Klaire Kirsch buried two quick 3-pointers to give UNK the lead. However, UNK struggled early to defend the Tigers’ size. And Fort Hays also didn’t hurt itself, as the Tigers only committed three turnovers the entire game. 

Despite the low turnovers from Fort Hays, the Lopers were able to reverse the trend of close games with the Tigers. In January, the Lopers won 53-52. 

“Most of our games with Hays come down to one possession,” Eighmey said. “It was nice to have a game that came down to more than one possession at the finish.” 

The Lopers outrebounded the Tigers 53-26, which led to a 19-5 advantage in second-chance points. Leading the way for the Lopers was Shiloh McCool who broke UNK’s record for rebounds in a game after corralling 19 boards. The previous record was held by Heather Steffen and Julia Volquardson with 18. 

The other category that jumped off the stat sheet was 3-pointers. The Lopers made 11 triples, including Meg Burns shooting 4-6 from downtown. The Tigers made just three 3-pointers go in. UNK never trailed. 

The Lopers earned the No. 1 seed in the MIAA tournament this weekend in Kansas City. Klaire Kirsch knows the challenge of winning a conference tournament championship.

“Feels really good to be the top seed, but that just means everybody’s coming for you,” Kirsch said. “We are really going to have to lock in this upcoming week and be ready to go.” 

Elisa Backes continued on the tall task. 

“We are just getting started which is really exciting,” Backes said. “Our bench and our whole culture, all our fans, there’s a whole community here cheering us on.” 

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