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University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

UNK MBB: Lopers Battle But Fall to NW Missouri State

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Kearney, Neb. – Reigning National Player of the Year Trevor Hudgins tallied 31 points, 25 coming in the second half, to help second-ranked Northwest Missouri State pull away from Nebraska-Kearney, 80-65, Saturday evening in Maryville.


The two-time defending National Champions improve to 15-1 (8-0) have now won 13 in a row and sit atop the MIAA standings by 1.5 games. The Lopers (6-10, 2-8) now look forward to a four-game homestand; they’ve been in Kearney just five times to date.


UNK shot a season-high 64% from the field in a Thursday night win at Missouri Western and continued that today, despite going against the vaunted Bearcat defense. The Lopers scored the game’s first seven points, were up 29-27 by the five-minute mark of the first half and were down seven with six to play. UNK finished shooting 56% (23 of 41), its fourth-highest effort of the winter.


“I’m really proud of our guys. Getting a win Thursday was huge and gave us a little confidence and that showed today in the first half. I think we played very well over the first 20 minutes,” said UNK head coach Kevin Lofton on the KRVN radio post-game show. “Our goal coming in was to be within striking distance by the five-minute mark. We thought if we could come in here and compete and play up to our potential, we would have a chance with five minutes left. We were down nine then and I would’ve liked to have been a possession or two better but we still were in the game.”


Hudgins, among the top D2 players in recent times, finished 11 of 19 (2 of 8 3’s) from the field, 7 of 8 at the line while also adding six times, six defensive boards, two steals and a block in going all 40 minutes. He had 25 of the ‘Cats 44 second half points and made a layup with 3:12 left to make it a 70-60 score.


“Hudgins is as good as they come. We did a solid job on him in the first half but he really stood up after halftime,” said Lofton. “He’s arguably the best player in the country and he played like it. We couldn’t stay in front of him on our switches.”


Northwest had a solid day shooting as well (59%) while also being plus five on the glass and having just eight turnovers. Guard Diego Bernard (18 points & four steals) and reserve Daniel Abreu (11 points & six boards) also had big efforts for the ‘Cats. Bernard was didn’t appear in the team’s Wednesday night win at Fort Hays State, his first missed game of the season. 


Point guard David Simental (Pueblo West, Colo.) had 13 of his team-high 21 points in the second half. He made 8 of 12 shots, 4 of 5 freebies and drew six fouls. Simental now has 993 career NCAA points and 1,460 career college points. Next, senior forward Darrian Nebeker (West Jordan, Utah) capped a big week by going for 17 points, five dimes, three boards and a steal with freshman forward Sean Murphy (New Zealand) at 11 points, eight defensive caroms and an assist. This marks his third double digit effort of the season.


“We’re starting to come together and we have a four-game home stand coming up which is going to be huge for us,” said Lofton.


UNK hosts Pittsburg State (4-12, 3-7) and Missouri Southern (8-6, 5-3) next weekend.  


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