Basketball

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The University of Nebraska at Kearney women’s basketball team finished strong at the end of the first half and came back strong at the start the second half then held off Lincoln University, 60-52, Thursday night at Jefferson City, Mo.

UNK (23-2, 12-2 MIAA), ranked 22nd in one poll and 25th in another, stretched its win streak to 11 games by building a 17-point third-quarter lead thanks to a 15-3 run to close the second quarter and a 13-6 spurt to start the second half.

The Lopers misfired on nine of their first 10 3-pointers but managed four during this long run, including two by point guard Haley Simental. Her second made it 42-25 with about six minutes left in the third quarter.

However, after a timeout, the Blue Tigers (3-20, 0-14) went on an 11-0 run to give themselves a chance until the final minute. The run featured a three-point play by senior guard Kaloni Pryear who had a game-high 21 points. UNK contributed to the Blue Tigers’ efforts with four missed shots and four of the team’s 10 turnovers.

A 3-pointer by Simental stemmed the tide for a bit but Lincoln cut it to 49-44 with 6 minutes, 5 seconds to play after two free throws by freshman guard Natasha Elliott.

Lincoln came in shooting 59 percent at the line but sunk 7 of 9 in the game. After a Blue Tiger turnover sophomore post Brooke Carlson converted a layup to push the lead back to seven and Lincoln didn’t get closer than six the rest of the way.

Lincoln finished with a plus-5 rebounding margin and got big nights from its top two players, Pryear and post Vivian Chigbu. The pair combined to go 16 of 35 from the field with Pryear also grabbing six rebounds and four assists. She fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Chigbu posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes.

Finishing 6 of 17 from behind the arc, UNK got double-digit efforts from Simental (16), Carlson (15) and sophomore wing Maegan Holt (12). Simental went 3 of 6 from behind the arc. Carlson recorded a seventh straight double-digit effort and fell one rebound short of her third double-double.

UNK heads to No. 16/24 Central Missouri on Saturday afternoon. The Jennies (19-4, 13-1) beat Fort Hays State on Thursday, 76-69.