UNK MBB: Hornets Start Fast, Sink 11 Threes to Win

Photo Credit: UNK Athletics Photo Credit: UNK Athletics

Kearney, Neb. – Senior guard Atavian Butler scored a game-high 22 points and Emporia State sunk 11 three pointers to down Nebraska Kearney, 77-58, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center.

This was the only meeting this winter between the Hornets (13-7, 6-6) and Lopers (5-12, 2-10). E-State now leads the all-time series, 25-24.

The fast-paced Hornets came out on fire, making their first four shots to grab a lead 10-4 just four minutes in. They then made three of their next six field goals, including two triples, to open an 18-6 advantage. Among the MIAA leaders in three-point attempts, E-State finished the first half 9 of 20 from behind the arc and then cooled to a 2 of 12 effort after the break (35% overall). Butler (5 of 9) and 6-3 senior guard Owen Long (4 of 8) had the hottest hands, and this marks the Hornets fourth game with at least 10 treys.

"They hit some shots, but we weren't locked in like we should've been," said UNK interim head coach Antoine Young on the KRVN Radio post-game show. "Our attention to detail wasn't great … certain guys we knew could hit shots got the looks they wanted."

UNK came back to win the second half, 36-29, and outrebounded the Hornets by one, 44-43. Most of that glass work came thanks to Colorado junior guard Sean Evans (career-high 12) and New Zealand junior forward Sean Murphy (10). Five of Murphy's boards came on the offensive end, and this marks his third double double as he also had his fourth 18-point game. That total ties a career-high; Murphy finished 7 of 10 from the field and 4 of 5 at the line.

"Our attention to detail was good Saturday (vs. Fort Hays) and in practice this week but, for whatever reason, we came out tonight not ready to play and not ready to go," said Young. "Murph plays so hard and at the intensity that we need to be successful. I also thought Sean Evans grew up tonight in the sense that he wasn't hitting shots but came out and got 12 rebounds. When you're not hitting shots, you tend not to do anything else."

To reach his tally, Butler made 7 of 14 shots while also having seven rebounds and four assists. As a team, E-State had 20 dimes on 24 buckets with Long (six) leading the way there. He also had 12 points with 6-7 senior wing Alijah Comithier (17) and sophomore reserve guard Cael McGee (13) in double figures as well.

Finally for UNK, Colorado freshman guard D'Aundre Samuels had 11 points, four boards, and three assists with Wahoo super senior Winston Cook coming off the bench to provide 12 points, four rebounds and two assists.

The Lopers host Washburn on Saturday afternoon. The Ichabods (12-6, 8-4) fell at No. 30 Fort Hays State tonight, 71-58.