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UNK MBB: Pitt Rolls Lopers In Kearney

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Kearney, Neb. – The Pittsburg State Gorillas shot 70 percent in the second half and had six players score in double digits to down Nebraska-Kearney, 90-64, Saturday evening at the Health & Sports Center.

The Gorillas (17-9, 13-7) take the season series from the Lopers and are now in a three-way tie for third place in the MIAA standings.

On "Senior Day" the Lopers played an inspired first half as they outrebounded the Gorillas by a 24-15 margin to trail by only a 35-31 count at the break. New Zealand junior forward Sean Murphy (nine) and Wahoo super senior Winston Cook (seven) did the most damage on the glass but a 1 of 10 effort from behind the arc allowed Pitt to lead by two. The Gorillas were also cold from downtown (2 for 11) but went 12 of 17 from two-point land.

Pitt then roared out of the halftime locker room with five quick points thanks to a bucket and a three-point play. UNK called timeout but it didn't matter as the Gorillas didn't miss much in the second half, making 19 of 27 shots (.704 pct.) including a 6 of 9 effort from deep. Thanks to 6-10, 300-pound post Tane Prictor, who had 10 points and eight rebounds in just 11 minutes, they also won the rebounding battle, 25-15.

"I don't know if there was bad Gatorade or not; I'm going to have to check it. You come out and play like that in the second half … I don't quite understand that" said UNK interim head coach Antoine Young on the KRVN Radio post-game show. "We played so well in the first half and, since we've mainly been playing seven guys of late, it could've been fatigue. These guys have logged a lot of minutes."

Sophomore lefty reserve guard Max Alexander paced Pitt (game-high 21 points in 21 points with four assists) with starters Deshaun English III and Jordan Fritson having 15 apiece. Finally, sophomore wing Tanner Mans almost had a double double (12 points, seven boards) like Prictor.

For UNK, Murphy had his second straight and fifth double double of the winter (15 points, 14 rebounds) with Texas true freshman guard Bryson Goldsmith providing 13 points, seven boards, two assists and two steals off the bench. The point and rebound totals are new season-bests for Goldsmith. Next, Colorado freshman guard D'Aundre Samuels had 17 points and three dimes with Cook having 11 points and eight boards in his 101st collegiate appearance.

"Bryson is a freshman and has been learning the whole year what college basketball is about. It was good to see him finally grow up and become a sophomore," said Young. "Sean is Mr. Reliable and always a rock for us. We appreciate him so much for the fight that he has."

In addtion to Cook, forward Ryder Kirsch (Rapid City, S.D.) was honored on Senior Day. Unfortunately, his suffered a season-ending injury back in mid-December. 

The Lopers finish up the season next Friday night at Fort Hays State (21-6, 16-5). That game was moved up a day due to arena scheduling issues.