No. 8 Mules fall late at Nebraska-Kearney

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KEARNEY, Neb.) — Nebraska-Kearney made two free throws with 14 seconds left and withstood three UCM shots in the final possession to upset the eighth-ranked Mules 65-64 on Saturday night. The loss drops UCM to 11-2 on the season, including 2-2 in MIAA play.
The Mules came out of the gates firing as they jumped out to an early 8-4 lead. UCM extended the lead to 10 at 19-9 at the 12:21 mark of the first half. The Lopers (8-3, 4-1 MIAA) used a quick 5-0 spurt to pull within 19-14, but Kyle Wolf‘s layup gave the Mules a seven point lead with 7:52 left in the half.
An 8-3 run pulled the Lopers to within four at 22-18 with 5:28 left in the opening stanza. The Mules answered with a jumper from Dillon Deck and a layup from TJ Whiteto lead 26-18 at the 4:44 mark. A three from Ty Danielson cut the UCM lead to five, but a layup from Deck, and back-to-back buckets from Brennen Hughes gave the Mules a 32-21 lead with 23 seconds left. Davion Pearson hit a pair of free throws for UNK and the Mules led 32-23 at halftime.
The Mules quickly pushed the lead to 12 out of the intermission on a dunk and free throw from Hughes. The Mules led 38-26 at the 18:31 mark, but Nebraska-Kearney began to chip away at the lead.
An 8-0 run cut the lead to four at 38-34 with 16:15 left in regulation. The Mules pushed the lead back to seven two different times, including 45-38 with 14:02 to play. The Lopers used an 8-0 run to grab their first lead since 2-0. UCM went back in front on a pair of Preston Brunz free throws, but an 8-3 spurt gave the Lopers a 54-50 lead with 7:01 to play.
The Mules tied the game at 56-all on two Rakeem Dickerson free throws with 5:21 to play and took a 60-58 lead on consecutive buckets by Dickerson and Hughes. UCM led 62-59 with 1:39 to play and 64-61 with 1:04 left, but UNK rallied.
Two Isaiah McKay free throws cut the lead to 64-63 with 48 seconds to play and following a missed UCM jumper the Mules were whistled for a foul. Connor Beranek made both foul shots to put UNK in front 65-64. The Mules had four shots in the final 14 seconds, but couldn’t get anything to fall and they dropped their second conference game of the season.
The Mules shot 40 percent from the field, going 24-of-60, including 3-of-9 from beyond the arc for 33 percent. UCM was just 13-of-22 at the foul line for 59 percent.
Deck led UCM with 16 points off the bench. Hughes finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Kyle Wolf recorded his second double-double of the year with 12 points and 12 boards.
Ethan Brozek led UNK with 18 points, while Beranak had 17 points and 16 boards and Danielson finished with 12. The Lopers were 22-of-49 from the field for 45 percent, including 6-of-16 from three-point range for 37 percent. UNK was 15-of-23 at the foul line for 65 percent.
The Mules return to action on Monday night at Washburn. Tipoff at Lee Arena in Topeka, Kansas, is set for 7:30 p.m.