NE-Kearney 66 UCCS Women 63

Tonya Tripp and Kirstin Buttars each posted double-doubles, but the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was unable to overcome the powerful Nebraska-Kearney Lopers in a 66-63 defeat Friday evening at the Lions’ Den.

Tripp had 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Buttars, a freshman from Weston, Idaho, added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

UCCS outrebounded Nebraska-Kearney 38-33, with 21 of those off the offensive glass. The number is particularly remarkable considering the Lopers came into the game outrebounding their opponents by an average of 8.1 per game.

The Mountain Lions hurt themselves with errant marksmanship at the foul line. UCCS made just eight of its 16 free throw attempts, while the Lopers cashed in on 16 of the 20 attempts.

The Mountain Lions trailed 58-51 with 7:21 left in the game when Tripp and Jazzmin Awa-Williams scored on consecutive possessions. Mallory Lowe’s 3-pointer with 4:21 left tied the score.

The score was knotted at 60 when Jonni Mildenberger’s layup after a UCCS shot clock violation gave Nebraska-Kearney a two-point edge. Tripp had a chance to tie 30 seconds later, but missed two free throws. The Lopers made it hurt even more by converting on two of their own with 25 seconds left.

Buttars cut it to 64-62 with 14 second left but it was too little, too late.

Amy Mathis led Nebraska-Kearney (13-4, 6-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with 15 points, while Melissa Hinkley, who also stars for the Lopers’ softball team, added 13. Mathis and Hinkley each grabbed eight rebounds.

Emily Jenkins had seven points, five assists, four steals and four rebounds for UCCS (8-11, 2-6 RMAC).

The Mountain Lions opened the game with a Candace Thornton 3-pointer and led by as many as eight by breaking down the Nebraska-Kearney half-court trap and getting open looks. The Lopers adjusted, rotating their wings forward to eliminate the lateral pass. Using that, they scored 11 straight points to take a 27-21 lead.

Nebraska-Kearney led by as many as nine behind Mathis’ 11 first-half points. UCCS was able to reduce the deficit to five by the end of the first half as Tripp took over with four points, three offensive rebounds and a steal in the final three minutes.