With numerous players making big contributions, the Chadron State College men’s basketball team pulled off at least a mild surprise last Wednesday night when the Eagles nipped Nebraska-Kearney 72-69 in a thriller at Kearney. Both teams were 1-2 following the nail-biter.
There was reason for the Eagles to celebrate. It was just CSC’s fifth victory over the Lopers in 30 games this century and only the second at Kearney during that stretch. The last time the Eagles won at Kearney was on Jan. 29, 2009. They also had not defeated the Lopers in Chadron since the final game of the 2011-12 regular season.
Coach Houston Reed called it “a great win,” perhaps an understatement since it was the first time the Eagles had won a game on the road since he became the head coach a year ago.
Neither team led by more than nine points. Kearney went ahead 24-15 with nine minutes left in the first half, but the Eagles battled and took a 37-35 lead with 45 seconds remaining. A 3-pointer by the Lopers’ Kyle Juhl nine seconds later gave them a 38-37 halftime advantage.
Chadron State went on top for keeps on Jeremy Ruffin’s put-back with 12:15 to play. CSC junior Leigh Saffin followed with a 3-pointer and Kearney never caught up.
The Eagles led by nine points three times in the final 7:30. The last was with 2:21 to play, when guard Jaisean Jackson drove for a layup to make it 71-62.
One of two free throws by freshman Dru Kuxhausen was the only point the Eagles managed the rest of the way and Kearney made things cozy. The Lopers’ Ty Danielson nailed a 3-pointer, the only one his team managed in 13 tries during the second half, and both Danielson and Trey Lansman made two free throws as the clock was winding down.
The Eagles had the ball with 16 seconds left, but turned it over as the 30-second shot clock was expiring.
Kearney’s Lane Rohrich fired a trey, but it missed with nine seconds still showing. Juhl got the rebound and attempted a 3-point shot with two seconds to go. His volley missed, but he was awarded three free throws.
Juhl tried to make the first two free shots, but missed. He intentionally missed the third, got the rebound and shoved the ball to Rohrich, who fired a trey at the buzzer, but it also did not connect, much to the Eagles’ relief.
Kuxhausen, the freshman from Scottsbluff, led all scorers with 22 points, 15 in the first half. Sophomore forward Michael Johnson added 13 points and both Ruffin and Jackson tallied 10.
Saffin contributed nine points, all in the second half on three treys. In addition, freshman Eric Jamerman nailed both of his 3-point shots in the first half.
Reed noted that Ruffin also collected a game-high 10 rebounds and was largely responsible for limiting Lansman, UNK’s pre-season All-American, to 16 points. Lansman poured in 43 last Friday night, when the Lopers won 94-81 at Colorado-Colorado Springs.
Danielson paced Kearney with 21 points. Rohrich and Morgan Soucie added 11 apiece.
Chadron State 37 35 ---- 72
Nebraska-Kearney 38 31 ---- 69
Chadron State—Dru Kuxhausen 22, Michael Johnson 13, Jeremy Ruffin 10, Jaisean Johnson 10, Leigh Saffin 9, Eric Jamerman 6, Walker Andrew 2. Totals: 27-56 (8-17) 10-16 72 points, 37 rebounds, 15 turnovers.
Nebraska-Kearney—Ty Danielson 21, Trey Lansman 16, Lane Rohrich 11, Morgan Soucie 11, Kyle Juhl 8, Yahsua Trent 2. Totals: 23-55 (6-25) 17-25 69 points, 31 rebounds, 9 turnovers.
3-pointers: CSC—Kuxhausen 3, Saffin 3, Jamerman 2. UNK—Danielson 3, Juhl 2, Rohrich 1.