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UNK MBB: Murphy Goes for 25/17/5 but Lions Get the Win

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Kearney, Neb. – Junior forward Darius Dawson posted a double double and redshirt senior wing Martin Macenis chipped in with 18 points to help Missouri Southern State down Nebraska-Kearney, 73-55, Thursday night at the Health & Sports Center.

The Lions (13-12, 11-8) take the season series from the Lopers and have now won the last nine meetings in the series.

Due to injuries and illness, UNK dressed just eight players with seven taking the court. New Zealand junior forward Sean Murphy played all 40 minutes and finished with a career-best 25 points as well as 17 rebounds and five assists. His fourth double double of the year, he made 9 of 15 shots, 7 of 10 free throws with seven of his boards coming on the offensive end. In December, Murphy had a career-best 18 boards in a win over Missouri Western.

"He's just a rock. He constantly plays so hard, he constantly fighting and he's producing like this being undersized," said UNK interim head coach Antoine Young. "He's constantly battling to keep us afloat on the glass."

UNK trailed by only a 26-21 margin with 4:16 left in the half. However, the Lions closed on an 11-6 run and Dawson scored the first six points in the second half. That made it 43-27 and the Lopers didn't get closer than 14 the rest of the night.

"I thought we got every shot in America. We got layups that we just flat out missed, we got to the free throw line more than we have all year and got every three-point look that you would want as a player," said Young. "We just couldn't hit a shot tonight."

The Lopers hurt themselves at the line (8 of 20/.400 pct.) and behind the arc (7 of 32/.219 pct.) and also had 17 turnovers that led to 18 Lion points. Having three starters score in double figures, MSSU made 16 of 30 shots in the opening half and then sunk 14 of 16 freebies after the break.

"We undersized most of the time so to trail them by only one on the glass … I was pretty proud of that effort and what we did defensively," said Young. "Our guys were gassed and I was trying to manage timeouts to get certain guys a breather."

Dawson, a junior college transfer, had 22 points and 10 boards with Macenis haunting UNK again to the tune of 6 of 9 and 6 of 6 shooting. Finally, guard Vinson Sigmon Jr. had 15 points, six boards and four steals.

Besides Murphy's heroics, freshman guard D'Aundre Samuels (Denver) got close to a double double (10 points and eight rebounds) while also having three assists. That pushes his season total to 95; Hall of Famer Kenya Crandell had a true freshman record of 105 back in 1992-93. Finally, junior wing Taden King (Rexburg, Idaho) had eight points, five assists, three steals and three rebounds.

UNK hosts Pittsburg State Saturday afternoon on "Senior Day". The Gorillas (16-9, 12-7) won tonight at Fort Hays State, 67-63.