WAYNE – Monday night’s crowd showed up in full force as two in-state rivals put on a show in Division II men’s basketball.
From Rice Auditorium (879 in attendance), WSC closed out their non-conference schedule with Nebraska-Kearney which marked the 167th meeting dating back to the 1919-20 season (UNK leads all-time series 91-76).
Both teams put their offense on full display in the first half before it was a defensive battle which featured 12 lead changes and nine ties with neither team getting a double figure lead.
Freshman Alec Millender finished 4-4 from behind the arc and his final one put the game away with 13 seconds left in the game. WSC went up 67-64 and didn’t allow UNK to get the shot off to tie the game which led to Wayne State improving to 4-3 (4-1 at Rice). The Lopers saw their three-game winning streak snapped and are now 3-2 overall.
UNK led at-most by five points in the first half until freshman Zach LaFave scored five straight points including a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to pull within two points. Nebraska-Kearney held a 40-38 first half lead. Then the defense tightened up in the final 20 minutes as WSC outscored the Lopers, 34-29 to win 67-64.
Wildcat leaders were Millender with 12 points (4-6 FG/4-4 3PT) and five assists; junior Jordan Janssen recorded his 39th career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds (5-12 FG/1-1 FT); redshirt freshman Justin Eagins added 11 points and six boards to go along with three steals and a trio of blocks (5-14 FG/1-5 3PT) as freshman Cody McCullough poured in 10 points and nine rebounds (eight being offensive) as well as two blocks (4-11 FG/2-3 FT).
Other scoring came from LaFave with nine first half points and six boards, junior Nate Mohr with seven points, freshman Jay Saunders had four points and three assists as well as junior Nate Thayer scored three points and drew two charges.
Wayne State shot 27-69 (39.1%) from the floor, 8-19 (42.1%) from behind the arc and 5-6 (83.3%) from the foul line.
A trio of Lopers poured in double figure scoring led by Austin Luger with 19 points, Darrian Nebeker had 16 points and Sean Evans scored 15 points.
UNK finished 26-57 (45.6%) from the field, 6-19 (31.6%) from the three-point line and 6-9 (66.7%) from the charity stripe.
Wayne State won the battle in the paint (34-30) and used a 16-2 advantage in bench scoring while also out rebounded UNK, 36-34 (15-8 offensive) which led to 15 second chance points compared to 12 from Nebraska-Kearney. WSC won the fast break scoring, 11-0 while scoring 19 points off 13 Loper turnovers as UNK scored 11 points off 10 Wildcat turnovers.
For the next six weeks, the Wayne State College men will play the first game of the NISC doubleheader with the women playing the night-cap through the middle part of the season.
WSC will entertain Southwest Minnesota State on Thursday, December 2 at 5:30/7:30 p.m. Pregame show coverage on The City ‘KCTY’ 98.9/1590 and waynedailynews.com will be at 5 p.m. on the Wildcat Sports Network. Men’s game first at 5:30 p.m. with the women to follow around 7:30 p.m.