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Loper men downed by Washburn in rare home loss

UNK senior Trey Lansman (31) steals a ball against Washburn, Feb. 1, 2018 (KHGI)

Preseason All-American post Brady Skeens had a double double and Washburn closed on a 25-10 run to beat Nebraska-Kearney, 87-73, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center.

Washburn (16-5, 10-2) remains tied with defending national champion NW Missouri State for first place in the MIAA while the Lopers fall to 9-12 (5-7).

The 'Bods came into the year having lost eight straight to UNK but swept this year's series. Tonight, they got another big effort from Skeens (28 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks) and shut down Kearney down the stretch.

Thanks to a 22 of 27 effort at the line and 18 points off 15 turnovers, the Lopers held an early 13-5 lead and then hung around after Washburn seized control midway through the first half.

Down nine late in the first half, UNK battled back to lead 63-62 with 9:07 to play after senior guard Yashua Trent (Chicago, Ill.) went 1 of 2 at the line. The lead didn't last long as Kearney went 2 of 12 from the field (0 of 4 threes) with five turnovers the rest of the way.

"We didn't execute very well down the stretch. They kind of put their foot on the gas, got some easy stuff in transition and Skeens asserted himself throughout the entire game," said Loper head coach Kevin Lofton. "We went to zone and it worked for one possession but they came back and made a good adjustment. Bottom line, they played well and we didn't."

Two free throws from Lane Rohrich (Pierce) kept it a one possession game at the 5:12 mark but Washburn got one of many layups from junior guard Randall Smith and then he hit a rare triple after a Loper turnover. That made it 77-69 and the deficit just grew from there with two dunks by the 'Bods closing things out.

"They play really good man-to-man defense and were taking us out of everything we wanted to do in the first half. We spread it out and went four out, one in and that kind of turned things a bit early in the second half," said Lofton. "You could see the edge there. We were able to beat them a couple of times last year and I'm sure that stuck with them."

Leading Division II in field goal percentage (73.8), Skeens finished 10 of 14 while also making six of eight free throws. The point total tied a career-high effort with 11 of his boards coming on the defensive end. Next, Smith had 16 points, seven assists and two steals with starter Isaac Clark and reserve Tyas Martin having 10 points apiece.

Kearney was led by York senior Ty Danielson who had a season-best 25 points on 7 of 8 (2 of 3 threes) shooting. Going 9 for 9 at the line, he also had seven boards and two steals in 27 minutes off the bench.

Preseason All-American forward Trey Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) was one of four Lopers to end with four fouls. He still managed 16 points, five boards, five assists, two blocks and two steals. Finally, Rohrich had 11 of his 13 points in the first half.

UNK hosts Emporia State Saturday night. The Hornets (8-13, 3-9) have lost six straight after a 58-50 setback to Fort Hays State on Wednesday.

Courtesy UNK Sports Information

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