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UNK Cools Off Hot Northeastern Squad

The Nebraska-Kearney men’s basketball team committed a season-low nine turnovers and hit six free throws in the final 48 seconds to upset Northeastern State, 60-57, Saturday afternoon in Tahlequah, Okla.
This was the first meeting between the Lopers (4-8, 1-3) and RiverHawks (10-2, 3-1) since the 2003 Elite Eight in Florida. With the win, UNK snaps NSU’s five-game win streak.
In a game that featured 14 lead changes, seven ties and no lead bigger than five points, UNK didn’t trail over the final four minutes.
Sophomore Tyler Shields (Kearney H.S.) gave UNK a 56-54 lead with 48 ticks left after the ‘Hawks missed a three and then was called for an over the back foul.
Facing a zone defense most the day, Northeastern missed an inside bucket 17 seconds later. That led to two free throws by junior Thomas Cooper (Chatanooga, Tenn.).
The RiverHawks didn’t go quietly, however, as Jon Miller sunk a triple with 15 seconds left. That shot came after teammate Bryton Hobbs missed a triple.
Senior wing Jon Henderson (Salt Lake City, Utah) scored the final points of the game soon after. Despite another missed three by Hobbs, the ‘Hawks had a chance to force overtime as junior Mike Dentlinger (Millard North), an 80% free throw shooter, missed two shots at the line with seven seconds left.
But, Hobbs missed a three from the left corner as time expired. For the day, NSU was just 5 of 23 (21.7%) from long range.
Winning the rebounding battle 36-35, UNK also was 17 of 24 at the line. Amazingly, NSU was 0 of 3 at charity stripe including a 0 of 1 effort in the final 20 minutes.
A balanced Kearney attack saw Dentlinger scored a team-high 17 points thanks to six made field goals. He also pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, all coming on the defensive end.

Henderson (11) and sophomore Pierre Newton (10) reached double figures as well with Cooper scoring a season-best nine. Finally, Newton added eight rebounds (all defensive) and five assists.

Northeastern got a double double from starter Jermaine Bransford (18 points & 11 rebounds) with Hobbs finishing with 11 points, eight assists and six boards.

UNK hosts Missouri Western State Wednesday night and then MIAA favorite Washburn visits Saturday afternoon.