Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team saw its 2019-20 season come to an end when it wasn’t selected for the 2020 NCAA Division II Tournament.
The Lopers (26-6) entered the weekend ranked ninth in the Central Region; the top eight teams in each of D2’s eight regions qualify for the tournament. The conference tournament winners from the MIAA, NSIC (Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conf.) and GAC (Great American Conf.) receive automatic bids. This year those teams were Central Missouri, St. Cloud State and Southeastern Oklahoma State.
SCSU likely “stole” a bid by winning the NSIC Tournament earlier this week as the Huskies were ranked 10th in the most recent region rankings. SEOSU also was on the bubble as they came into the weekend ranked seventh.
UNK beat NCAA qualifier Fort Hays State and Missouri Western State (21-8) twice and had wins against NCAA qualifier Emporia State, Central Oklahoma (18-10), Washburn (18-12), and Wayne State (16-13). However the FHSU Tigers had similar victories as well as non-conference ones over NCAA qualifiers Minnesota-Duluth and St. Anselm, Harding (19-10), and Concordia-St. Paul (15-14) with SWOSU having key wins against Pitt State and Washburn. The SW Okie win over the Gorillas likely was a huge factor in them getting the last at-large spot as UNK lost to PSU, 88-74, in early January.
The Lopers end the year leading the MIAA in eight different categories and saw its entire starting five earn All-MIAA honors. Finishing in third place in the league standings UNK’s win total is tied for the third most in school history. The 1995-96 (26-5), 1997-98 (26-4) and 1998-99 (24-6) squads also won 26 games with the Loper standard being 28 (1996-97).
Head coach Carrie Eighmey didn’t have a single senior on this year’s team with graduate transfer and point guard Haley Simental (Pueblo West, Colo.) granted a sixth year by the NCAA last month. Finally, current sophomore forward Shiloh McCool (Pleasant Valley, Ia.) sat out this winter due to injury after averaging 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game last season.
Central Regional ** March 13, 14 & 16 (Warrensburg, Mo.)
1. Central Missouri (27-4) – automatic bid
2. Minnesota-Duluth (26-6) – at-large bid
3. Sioux Falls (26-6) – at-large bid
4. Emporia State (24-7) – at-large bid
5. Southeastern Oklahoma State (22-7) – automatic bid
6. St. Cloud State (23-7) – automatic bid
7. Fort Hays State (23-7) – at-large bid
8. Southwestern Oklahoma State (21-8) – at-large bid
GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL=
NSAA State Championship=
Lincoln East 59, Fremont 50
Lincoln Pius X 71, Millard South 46
Beatrice 43, Scottsbluff 26
Crete 48, Grand Island Northwest 47, 3OT
Lincoln Christian 68, St. Paul 59
North Bend Central 39, Adams Central 31
Hastings St. Cecilia 62, Crofton 60
Ponca 53, Oakland-Craig 44
Archbishop Bergan 40, Hartington Cedar Catholic 34
Pleasanton 50, CWC 46
Humphrey St. Francis 68, Mullen 38
Wynot 37, Falls City Sacred Heart 27
GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL=
NSAA State Championship=
Fremont 58, Omaha Westside 40
Lincoln East 50, Papillion-LaVista 30
Lincoln Pius X 60, North Platte 44
Millard South 54, Lincoln Southwest 44
Beatrice 51, Platteview 47
Crete 48, Norris 43, OT
Grand Island Northwest 47, Sidney 44
Scottsbluff 57, Bennington 47
Adams Central 44, Chadron 30
Lincoln Christian 55, Malcolm 34
North Bend Central 48, West Point-Beemer 33
St. Paul 41, Wahoo 38
Crofton 72, Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur 41
Hastings St. Cecilia 56, Superior 43
Oakland-Craig 41, Clarkson/Leigh 36
Ponca 56, Grand Island Central Catholic 38
Archbishop Bergan 44, Maywood-Hayes Center 30
CWC 58, Dundy County-Stratton 36
Hartington Cedar Catholic 54, Weeping Water 49
Pleasanton 66, Pender 56
Falls City Sacred Heart 53, Loomis 27
Humphrey St. Francis 60, Sterling 53
Mullen 60, Bruning-Davenport/Shickley 54
Wynot 48, Lawrence-Nelson 39
Haanif Cheatham scored 19 points and Dachon Burke Jr. scored 16 points to pace Nebraska (7-23, 2-17 Big Ten Conference). Thorir Thorbjarnarson pulled down a team-best seven rebounds for the Huskers, who outrebounded Michigan 40-38, the first time this season Nebraska has outrebounded a Big Ten foe.
Nebraska also shot a season-best 80 percent on free throws, connecting on 12 of 15 attempts.
But the Wolverines, led by Isaiah Livers with 18 points, shot 59.4 percent from the field in the second half to pull away from Nebraska, which was playing without starting point guard Cam Mack for its second consecutive road game.
Michigan (19-11, 10-9) opened the game with an 11-2 lead and held a nine-point margin with midway through the first half, when Nebraska used a 10-2 run to get back in the game.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Thorbjarnarson and Burke started the run. John Teske hit a short jumper for Michigan, but Kevin Cross scored in the paint and Thorbjarnarson scored a layup to pull the Huskers within 23-22 with 6:52 remaining before halftime.
Nebraska, though, missed its next five field goal attempts while also committing five turnovers. However, Michigan didn't take full advantage, only extending its lead to 29-22 with 3:59 remaining. Eli Brooks had two 3-pointers in that stretch for the Wolverines.
Cheatham ended Nebraska's scoring drought of 6 minutes, 52 seconds with a layup off a Michigan turnover. Akol Arop followed with a transition layup off an assist from Thorbjarnarson to pull the Huskers within 29-26 with 1:04 remaining before halftime.
Brandon Johns Jr. hit a 3-pointer for Michigan, and Burke made two free throws, while Michigan missed a shot at the halftime buzzer, with the Wolverines leading 32-28 at halftime. Nebraska held Michigan to 34 percent shooting in the first half, including 5-of-15 on 3-pointers, while the Huskers shot 37 percent and held a 24-18 rebounding advantage in the first half.
Nebraska concludes the regular season Sunday with a noon tip-off at Minnesota. The Huskers will be either the No. 13 or No. 14 seed for next week's Big Ten Tournament, which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis.