Sophmore Josh Holliday, 11, prepares to shoot the basketball into the basket at the UCO vs. Southwest Baptist University Men’s game at the Hamilton Field House on February 4, 2017. (Elizabeth Roberts/ The Vista).
The UCO Men’s Basketball team lost a close game against the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers 80-74 on Thursday night and fall to (14-8, 9-5).
MBB: Final, Nebraska-Kearney 80, Central Oklahoma 74#RollChos
— UCO Bronchos (@ucoathletics) February 10, 2017
Corey Alpough scored 20 points for the Bronchos and snagged seven rebounds in 25 minutes of play. Jordan London scored 12 points, dished out 6 assists and grabbed 6 rebounds.
The difference in this game resided at the free throw line. Nebraska-Kearney made 19 of their 25 free throw attempts, as UCO had trouble keeping the Lopers off of the line.
UCO started the game shooting 7-19 from the floor, but their hustle on the boards kept them in the game. Corbin Byford paced the Bronchos to begin the game, scoring an early eight points to go along with three rebounds halfway through the first half.
UCO was able to shrug off their slow 7-19 shooting start as the team hit 50 percent of their shots.
The difference maker for the Bronchos in the first half was Corey Alpough. The senior forward provided a spark off the bench for UCO as Alpough went into halftime with 16 points, 5 rebounds and an assist.
With the help of Alpough’s scoring and the Bronchos’ second chance points (16), UCO closed the half on a 7-0 run to trim a once 10-point deficit to just 3 points.
To start the second half UCO fouled the Lopers consistently, which came back to haunt the Bronchos late in the game.
Another issue for the Bronchos in the second half was turnovers. After only committing 2 turnovers in the first half, the Bronchos turned the ball over 10 times in the second half, which led to 15 points for the Lopers.
With five minutes remaining, Nebraska-Kearney was in the double bonus and as the best free throw shooting team in the conference (78 percent) the Lopers were more than willing to take the game to the line, hitting free throw after free throw.
But even through all of the struggles, UCO had a chance at the end of the game. With less than two minutes remaining, Jordan London hit a 3-pointer to give the Bronchos a one-point lead.
Both teams battled back and forth in the closing minutes, exchanging leads constantly, but a 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining gave Nebraska-Kearney the lead and a couple free throws on the next possession would seal the game for the Lopers.
The Bronchos will travel to Kansas on Saturday to play Fort Hays State University.