Staff Photographer

11-8-19 BH Media News Service World Herald News Service Rick Tucker , Kearney Hub University of Nebraska at Kearney vs University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles UNK’s Brooke Carlson (45) fights for an opening as Minnesota’s Julia Peplinski(31) pressures on the play during Friday game UNK defeated Minnesota 79-69.

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney center Brooke Carlson’s offensive game was rather predictable last season. She almost exclusively went to the right side of the basket and had little range on her jump shot.

It forced Carlson to spend the offseason evolving her game. Through the Lopers’ first two contests, Carlson’s offseason work has shown.

In the Lopers’ 83-79 victory over Wayne State College (Neb.) on Saturday at the Health and Sports Center, Carlson scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half. She wasn’t afraid to attack the basket from any angle, had confidence in her jumper and put back the occasional offensive rebound.

“I worked a lot in the offseason on being more versatile,” said Carlson, who also had 10 rebounds against Wayne. “Just being able to go left when people are taking away my right and being more willing to improve on the perimeter have been focal points.”

In the Lopers’ victory on Friday, the 6-foot-1 sophomore recorded a career-high 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Carlson admits she has more confidence and a better grasp of reading defenses this season after averaging a team-high 10.3 points per game as a freshman last year.

Her success through the first two games is an encouraging sign, coach Carrie Eighmey said. It also provides the Lopers with a formidable inside presence on a team littered with shooters.

“We just continue to see her grow and add more to her game and more to her versatility,” Eighmey said. “I think she’s going to keep getting better and better. She’s just a high-character kid and works really, really hard. She wants to do the right thing. She’s just made a ton of progress.”

On Saturday against Wayne, the Lopers’ offense was inefficient early. It wasn’t until a 12-0 run sparked the Lopers on the offensive end. Klaire Kirsch sank a 3-pointer to cap the scoring run with about seven minutes left in the first half, which put the Lopers ahead 22-16.

Midway through the third quarter, the Lopers (2-0) held an eight-point lead. The Wildcats (1-1) managed six straight points to cut the Lopers’ advantage to 57-52 with less than two minutes left in the period.

At times the Lopers were complacent offensively. But during a nearly 2 ½-minute stretch the Lopers attacked the basket and increased their advantage to 73-63 with 6 minutes, 44 seconds left.

The Wildcats didn’t give in, however. They made Halley Busse and Erin Norling focal points in their offense and continuously fed them the ball. Busse banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull the Wildcats within three points of the Lopers with 1:12 left.

Last season, the Lopers didn’t always adjust well to adversity and sometimes let games slip away. Eighmey said she saw maturity and growth from her team on Saturday with their ability to preserve the lead, despite the Wildcats’ comeback.

“Rather than them getting big eyes and wondering what’s going on, I felt like we knew what to expect,” Eighmey said. “We had been in that situation before, so that was encouraging seeing us handle that situation better than we maybe have done in the past.”

Besides, Carlson, sophomore Maegan Holt scored 17 points and Kelsey Sanger added 10 to lead the Lopers’ offense, which shot 44.6 percent in the game.

Up next, the Lopers will participate in the Fort Hays State University Crossover Tournament. They play Cameron University (Okla.) at 5 p.m. Friday and Adams State (Colo.) at 3 p.m. Saturday.

daniel.zielinski@kearneyhub.com

@DanZielinski3

WAYNE STATE (79)

Norling 5-15 8-9 18, Bongartz 7-10 4-4 19, Minar 1-5 0-0 3, Busse 5-13 4-6 17, Ryan 2-5 3-6 8, Vesey 0-1 0-0 0, Hammer 4-7 3-3 11, Akoi 0-1 0-0 0, Zacharias 1-3 0-0 3, Wangerin 0-1 0-0 0.

NEBRASKA-KEARNEY (83)

Carlson 9-17 2-7 20, Simental 3-8 1-4 7, Holt 5-8 4-7 17, Kirsch 4-7 0-2 9, Sanger 4-10 2-2 10, Jansa 1-2 4-4 7, Dreckman 0-3 0-2 0, Backes 0-4 2-2 2, Bell 1-2 2-3 4, Law 2-4 1-2 7.

WSC (1-1) 16 18 25 20 –79

UNK (2-0) 12 26 25 20 – 83

3-Point Goals – WSC 7-18 (Norling 0-2, Bongartz 1-1, Minar 1-3, Busse 3-7, Ryan 1-1, Vesey 0-1, Hammer 0-2, Zacharias 1-1), UNK 7-23 (Carlson 0-1, Simental 0-2, Holt 3-3, Kirsch 1-3, Sanger 0-4, Jansa 1-1, Dreckman 0-3, Backes 0-3, Bell 0-1, Law 2-2). Fouled Out – Norling. Rebounds – WSC 37 (Norling 7), UNK 45 (Carlson 10). Assists – WSC 11 (Busse 4), UNK 12 (Kirsch 6). Total Fouls – WSC 26, UNK 18. Technical – None. A – 906.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.