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UNK Lopers men’s basketball ride strong second half to victory
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UNK Lopers men’s basketball ride strong second half to victory

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RAPID CITY, S.D. — The University of Nebraska at Kearney men’s basketball team shot 55% from the field and got 19 points from freshman Sean Evans to rock South Dakota Mines, 81-65, Tuesday night at Rapid City, giving coach Kevin Lofton his 250th career win.

“Really proud of our team for gaining their composure at halftime, coming out in the second half and playing a lot better. I think we took a step backward in the first half but took two steps forward in the second half,” Lofton said on the KRVN Radio postgame show.

The Lopers (3-1) hit 11 of 22 three-pointers, saw four starters score in double figures and led nearly the entire way. UNK jumped out to a 13-4 lead but the Hardrockers (1-4) came back as they shot 59% from the field in the first half to trail 39-37 at halftime.

The Lopers started the second half on a 12-4 run. The spurt featured back-to-back threes by Evans and paint shots from seniors Austin Luger and Darrian Nebeker.

“When our bigs play really well it gives us an added dimension and we’re pretty good. We struggled in the big position early on and it didn’t help that Darrian had two (first half) fouls. But he had a spurt there in the second half and you can see what he can bring to the table,” said Lofton. “That’s the guy that was one of the best players at his position over the last 10 games of the year (2020-21). “

The run made it 51-41 and Mines didn’t get closer than five the rest of the night.

UNK shot 59% from the field the second half while Mines made 10 of 26 (39%).

Evans came in having made 13 of his first 23 college shots and didn’t cool off tonight, going 7 of 12, including 4 of 7 three-pointers.

Luger and Nebeker got going in the second half with each tallying 16 points. Luger made 8 of 9 shots and grabbed a team-best eight boards with Nebeker making 7 of 11 shots.

David Simental netted 16 points, four assists and two steals.

Reserve guard Alejandro Rama led Mines with 16 points, four boards and three assists.

UNK visits Wayne State on Monday night. The Wildcats (3-2) upset No. 13 Augustana Tuesday night, 65-59, for their third straight win.

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The Lopers (26-6), seeded sixth in the Central Region, advance to the second round where they will face 15th-ranked Concordia-St. Paul (23-8), which beat seventh-ranked St. Cloud State (27-5) on Thursday to advance to today’s 5 p.m. semifinal. No. 1-ranked Central Missouri takes on Washburn in the other semifinal.

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