Cold second half dooms Bronchos, fall to UNK

UCO lost to the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers 66-49 Thursday evening on the front end of a two game road trip. UCO shot just 34 percent from the field and 20 percent from three-point range. 

UCO started the game with a Dashawn McDowell layup to put them up 2-0 on the opening possession. 

Pregame, Head Coach Bob Hoffman discussed the importance of getting his players in favorable spots to help the fluidity of the offense. “I need to put these guys in the best positions for them to do their best, tweak the game plan and keep getting open shots in the lane and paint.” 

A.J. Jackson scored the first six Loper points on 3-3 shooting in the opening three minutes. He finished the first half with nine points. 

The Bronchos led Nebraska-Kearney 9-8 at the first media timeout due to efficient shooting from Cam Givens who was 2-2 from the field for five points with 15 minutes remaining in the first half. McDowell scored the other four UCO points.

Redshirt Freshman Justin Nimmer’s coast-to-coast layup forced the first team timeout from the Lopers with the Bronchos ahead 17-13 with 10:37 remaining before halftime. 

The defense was much improved from last Saturday’s loss in the first 10 minutes of the game. They allowed 13 points, compared to the past few games which saw them give up multiple 30 and 40 point first halves. 

Dashon Bell had a five point offensive burst to boost the Broncho lead to nine with seven minutes left in the opening period. The senior point guard finished the game with seven points. 

UCO forward D.J. Basey found himself in early foul trouble, gathering three personal fouls in six minutes of playing time. Guard Jaylin Turner also committed 3 fouls in the first half. 

A pair of free throws from Cam Givens with one second remaining in the half put the Bronchos ahead 31-26. The Bronchos played well defensively against the three-pointer, allowing just two of the nine Loper attempts to go in the basket. 

UCO opened the second half outscored by Nebraska-Kearney 7-5 at the first media timeout with just under 15 minutes remaining. 

The Bronchos scored just seven points in the first 10 minutes of the second half on 1-8 shooting. After a Nimmer three-pointer with 16:19 remaining, UCO did not score until Colt Savage hit two free throws to end the scoring drought. 

The Lopers had a 13 point swing in their favor in the opening 12 minutes of the second half after two A.J. Jackson free throws. 

Nimmer scored a layup with 5:09 left to reduce the Nebraska-Kearney lead to eight, trailing 50-42. Nimmer was aggressive all night and an offensive bright-spot in an otherwise less than impressive shooting performance. 

Nimmer finished the game with 16 points, the lone Broncho in double-digit scoring.

UCO radio play-by-play announcer Tony Sellars was critical of the officiating in the last ten minutes, specifically after consecutive missed goaltending calls by the referee crew that would have resulted in four Broncho points. “It is very hard to play offense, and basketball in general, when there’s no consistency within the rules.” 

Coach Bob Hoffman received a technical foul for arguing the missed goaltends with 3:17 left in the game. The Bronchos trailed 54-44. 

It was a struggle to find offense in the second half, scoring just 18 points to the Lopers’ 40. UNK was led by Jackson’s 21 points and Morgan Soucie’s 18. 

The Bronchos, now 7-16 on the season, will be back in action Saturday afternoon to finish their road trip at Fort Hays State. The game will begin at 4 P.M. and be streamable on and broadcasted on 1560 AM.

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