The South Dakota School of Mines rode a hot-shooting first half and an even better start to the second half to stop Nebraska-Kearney 84-76 Friday night in men's basketball action in Rapid City.
After shooting 63 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes and leading by four, Mines scored the first seven points in the second half for a big momentum boost. Kearney would cut the lead to four on a couple of occasions but could get no closer.
The win, the ‘Rockers' 13th straight at home, moved them to 3-3 on the season, while Nebraska-Kearney fell to 1-2.
Although the Lopers hung around a little too much for Mines head coach Jason Henry’s liking, the Hardrockers answered those runs when it counted.
“It was different guys too,” Henry said. “They tried to get in passing lanes a little more than we really expected, but we have seen it plenty of times this year. They did things to give us a little bit of trouble, but we attacked. When you shoot 60 percent, that is a big deal.”
Mines finished with an outstanding .592 shooting percent in the game (29-of-49). Senior forward Caleb Shockman was a perfect 9-of-9 and led the Hardrockers with 19 points.
Senior Lance Kilburn added 12 points as four other players scored in double figures. Lucas Nolan and junior Calvin Thomas scored 11 each and Michael Dietz added 10.
“That’s how we play if we get the ball moving,” Shockman said. “We all know we can shoot and we all know which shots we are confident in taking. When we move the ball, we all get open looks and help each other.”
Happy with the team’s offense, Shockman wasn’t as pleased with the defense as the Hardrockers gave up 38 points in each half.
In an offensive-minded first half, the Hardrockers rallied in the final couple of minutes to take a 42-38 lead into the locker room at the break.
The 'Rockers opened up a double-digit lead early in the second half and built the lead to 13 points before the Lopers went on a 9-0 run to get back in the game.
Mines would end the drought with a basket by Shockman and a steal and layup by Jordan Dick. The Lopers hung around and cut the lead to five on a fade-away jumper by Connor Beranek.
Mines answered with a pair of free throws by Dietz and a big three-point play by Andrew Rebol to go back up by 10 with 6:47 left. Kearney hit three 3-pointers, including a pair by Tyler Shields to keep within striking distance. Mines was 6-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final 1:35 to hold on for the win.
“If they keep making those runs and fouling us to extend the game, if we don’t step up and knock them down, it would have been a long night and we could have lost the thing, to be honest,” Henry said. “We had to step up and overall, it was a very good team effort.”
Beranek, who scored eight of the Lopers first 11 points, finished with a game-high 22 points. Shields added 17 as Nebraska-Kearney also shot well in the game at 53 percent (29-of-55). The Lopers were 12-of-16 from the line.
The Hardrockers will host Colorado School of Mines Saturday at 4 p.m.
Lady Hardrockers hold off Southwest Minnesota State
The South Dakota School of Mines women's basketball team saw Southwest Minnesota State University whittle a 15-point deficit down to two with just a minute to play, but turned to its defense when it counted the most, stopping the Lady Mustangs 73-70 Friday night at Goodell Gymnasium.
The win was the second for the Lady Hardrockers this week and moved them to 2-4 on the season.
Mines hung tough in the first half, but went scoreless for the final four minutes and trailed by five at the break. The Lady Hardrockers continued their offensive progression when sophomore guard Alexis Long nailed a 3-pointer to open the second half and Mines would build a 64-49 lead with 7:17 to play.
The Lady Mustangs, however, used a 16-4 run to cut the deficit back to three with three minutes to play. Southwest Minnesota State had a chance to tie the game with just over a minute to play but turned the ball over on a fast-break attempt.
The two teams traded a pair of free throws – Jordan Needens for Mines and Bree Holleman for SWMU. The Lady Hardrockers got one free throw by sophomore guard Jessica Shull with 9.8 seconds left to set up one final attempt by the Lady Mustangs.
Rebekah Rolling had an open shot in the corner, but missed the 3-pointer and the Hardrockers grabbed the rebound for the win.
“We just had enough,” Mines head coach Ryan Larsen said. “I give Southwest Minnesota for coming back; they made some big plays."
Mines held Southwest Minnesota to just 10 field goals in the second half after the Lady Mustangs had 15 in the first 20 minutes.
“It's team defense, being in the gaps, helping out. We have to get out to the shooters,” Long said. “We really cracked down in the last couple of minutes because we weren't scoring. We had to stop them.”
Offensively, the Hardrockers had big games from Long, senior posts Renae Waters and freshman post Megan Rohrer, who combined to go 20-of-27 from the field. Long finished with 20 points, followed by Rohrer with 16 and Waters with 13.
“Alexis Long had an incredible night; we've been waiting for that all year,” Larsen said. “Renae Waters had a big-time game for us tonight. She attacked their post and got to the rim and finished really well. Megan Rohrer, I knew what we were getting with her, but I didn't know it would be this fast. We rode her down the stretch, too.”
Alison Nagel led Southwest Minnesota, 1-2, with 18 points, with Rolling adding 17.
Mines returns to action Saturday against Sioux Falls, beginning at 2 p.m.