While the No. 23 Fort Hays State University men’s basketball team (18-4 overall, 9-4 Mid-American Intercollegiate Activities Association) was completing a sweep of in-state rivals Emporia State and Washburn last week, the Lopers of Nebraska-Kearney were doing the same thing.
The Lopers (10-10, 6-7) defeated Washburn last Thursday and Emporia on Saturday to complete a four-game win streak that started with Pittsburg State on Jan. 22.
The Tigers headed into the game with a 10-game win streak, an MIAA best.
The Lopers completed their sweep of the Kansas MIAA schools with a win over the Tigers on Wednesday, 90-83.
The Tigers snapped their 10-game win streak on a night six players scored in double-digits. A seven-point halftime deficit proved too much for the Tigers.
After a pair of Stoppel free-throws the Tigers pulled within four with seven minutes to play before a 17-11 Loper run over the next four minutes would seal the game for the Lopers.
Sophomore Craig Nicholson, Wichita, who has led the team in scoring five of the last seven games, was held scoreless in the first half missing his only two shot attempts.
Senior Dwayne Brunson, Queens, N.Y., is second on the team in scoring and finished the first half 2-of-2 from the field and four points.
Nicholson finished the night with 14 points and eight assists, four points below his season average to that point. Brunson finished with 10 points and six rebounds, seven points below his season average.
Despite the low scoring totals from FHSU’s top two performers, other Tigers stepped up to keep them in the game.
Junior Tomislav Gabric, Dubrovnik, Croatia, finished the night with 14 points and six rebounds. Nine of his 14 points came in the first half. Gabric averages just under nine points and almost five rebounds per game.
Junior James Fleming, Hanover Park, Ill., led the Tigers with 16 points. He shot 5-of-9 from the field including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. He shot 4-of-4 from behind the arch in the second half. He played 14 of his 18 minutes in the second half. He tried to spark the second half comeback hitting three of his 3-point shots in the last three and a half minutes and two in the last 44 seconds.
Senior Carson Konrade, Spearville, and sophomore Jake Stoppel, Wilson, also finished in double-digits for the Tigers with 11 and 10, respectively.
Two Lopers had career nights against the Tigers. Connor Beranek went 9-of-12 from the field and scored a career-high 25 points. Kevin Dineen’s 14 points for the Lopers was also a career-high for him.
Ethan Brozek scored 24 points for the Lopers. Brozek and Beranek combined for 49 of the Loper’s 90 total points.
Seven Lopers saw action compared to 10 Tigers. As a team the Lopers shot 52.6 percent from the field compared to the Tigers’ 48.3 percent.
The Tigers will travel to Emporia tomorrow in a rematch of last weeks double overtime game that the Tigers took, 99-92.