PHOTOS: UNK drops second-round NCAA tourney game to Missouri Western

The Missouri Western State Griffons had two starters and two reserves score in double figures to down Nebraska-Kearney, 72-59, in an NCAA Tournament second-round game Saturday night in Hays, Kansas.

The seventh-seeded Griffs (23-9) advance to the Central Regional final where they’ll face either top-seed Fort Hays State or fifth-seed St. Cloud State Monday night. Sixth-seeded UNK ends the season at 24-8 and sees a six-game win streak over MWSU come to an end as well.

“Really proud of our team … it’s not easy to make a regional tournament. It’s a tough road in our league ,and we had a long season with a lot of adversity,” said Loper head coach Carrie Eighmey. “We had a couple of opportunities to maybe pack it in during a couple of stretches where we were struggling. Our kids are just too high character and they just kept battling, got some things turned around and made a good late run.” 

The Lopers came out on fire, hitting 9 of their first 15 shots, to lead 20-6 about eight minutes in. UNK hit three triples during this stretch, two from guard Haley Simental (Pueblo West, Colorado), with reserve forward Maegan Holt (Council Bluffs, Iowa) adding five points.

However, the Lopers totaled 39 points the rest of the way as they had a seven-minute stretch encompassing the first and second quarters with one made field. After the hot start, they finished 14 of 48 from the field (29%).

“Missouri Western played really well tonight. They shot the ball well and had a couple of kids come in, role players, that made a huge difference in the game,” said Eighmey.

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Photos by Nicole Heitmann, Fort Hays State University