The Nebraska-Kearney women’s basketball team had a 21-10 lead over Chadron State at the end of the first quarter in Chadron on Thursday night, and the 11-point margin also was the difference when the game ended with the score 71-60.
In between, the margin varied from four to 18 points while the fans got their money’s worth.
Chadron State’s highlight was the all-around play of 5-10 sophomore forward Shay Powers, who scored a career-high 29 points while making 11 of 17 shots, nearly all of them layups of various dimensions, to go with meshing seven of 10 free throws and grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds. She kept the Eagles “in the game.”
Kearney’s major weapon was three-point shooting. Led by 6-foot 2 super senior Elisa Backes, who was six-of-12 from long range, while tallying 22 points, the Lopers sank 10 treys, nine more than the Eagles managed. That’s where the margin of victory came from.
The other stats were fairly even. Both teams shot from 42 to 43% overall from the field, with Kearney making 24 total shots and the Eagles 21. Chadron State hit 17 free throw and Kearney 13. The Lopers claimed 36 rebounds, three more than CSC. The Eagles had 13 turnovers and the visitors 10.
Because of Powers’s knack of maneuvering her way to the basket and finding just enough space to get off her shots from various angles without getting them blocked, the Eagles had a 40- to-24 edge in points in the paint. She also drew seven fouls that sent her to the free throw line frequently.
Powers’s performance was not a fluke. The Longmont, Colo., product has now scored 79 points in four games while shooting 54% (30-56) from the field and 79% (19-24) from the line.
Although the Eagles are winless after four starts, Coach Janet Raymer said her team has improved with every game and she’s pleased with the direction it’s headed.
“We wanted a difficult non-conference schedule to help our young players get the feel of tough college basketball as we prepare for our conference games,” Raymer stated. “Our women play with a lot of heart. Now we just need to fine tune some things.”
Kearney definitely met the early-season scheduling specification. The Lady Lopers were 24-8 and qualified for the national tournament a year ago. They are now 4-1 this year.
As for the Eagles, some additional scoring punch is a need. Powers had 11 of the team’s 21 field goals field goals. One of the few shots the home team made other than layups was the three-pointer that freshman Kyra Tanabe sank with 4:13 to play in the third quarter. It cut the Lopers’ lead to 39-35
Credit must go to the Eagles’ defense for keeping the score close. Although Backes, who is built like a center, but shoots like a guard, didn’t get much argument on her three-point volleys, the CSC defenders seldom gave up anything that could be described as an open layup.
The game’s only double-digit scorer besides Powers and Backes was UNK’s 5-11 forward Shiloh McCool with 17 points on five-of-six shooting from the field and seven-of-nine from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Samiyah Worrall was CSC’s second-high scorer and rebounder with seven of each. She has yet to hit her stride from the outside. She’s made just four of 16 three-pointers after nailing 53 of 150 last season.
The Lady Eagles will be back in action Saturday and Sunday at a classic hosted by Northwestern College at Orange City, Iowa. They will play Northwestern the first day and Augustana the second.
Meanwhile, the CSC men will make their home debut at 2 p.m. Saturday against the Sioux Falls Cougars and play the Kearney men at 7 o’clock Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Neb-Kearney—Elisa Backes 22, Shiloh McCool 17, Sarah Schmitt 8, Meg Burns 8, Trinity Law 6, Samantha Moore 6, Meagan Holt 2, Klaire Kirsch 2. Totals: 24-56 (10-25) 13-19 71 points, 36 rebounds, 10 turnovers.
Chadron State—Shay Powers 29, Samiyah Worrell 7, Riley Aione 6, Allison Olson 6, Kyra Tanabe 4, Olivia Waufle 2, Awoti Aloi 2, Kadyn Comer 2, Claudia Dollinger 2. Totals: 21-50 (1-10) 17-24 60 points, 23 rebounds, 13 turnovers.
Neb-Kearney 21 13 20 17 ---71 Chadron State 10 15 14 21 ---60
3-pointers: UNK—Backes 6, Moore 2, Burns 2. CSC—Tanabe 1