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Lincoln women struggle offensively in loss to Emporia State

by Trevor Hahn | January 2, 2022 at 12:49 a.m.

Lincoln’s women’s basketball team lost its sixth straight game Saturday after falling to Emporia State 79-47 at Jason Gym to resume MIAA play.

The Blue Tigers got off to a slow start in this one, as they turned the ball over 11 times in the first quarter and allowed the Hornets to jump out to a 32-9 after 10 minutes.

“Honestly, I have no idea why we started so slow,” Lincoln coach Drea Mize said. “When you have 11 turnovers in one quarter, that is crippling. It is something we have been preaching all year. It is not changing. We have to take care of the ball, point blank.”

Turnovers were a huge issue for the Blue Tigers on Saturday. They finished the game with 27 turnovers and it led to 28 Emporia State points. The Hornets’ zone defense was giving Lincoln all sorts of trouble the whole game.

“Biggest thing with us is that we just don’t understand zone defense yet,” Mize said. “We have to do a better job of doing what we do in practice and executing during games.”

Lincoln (4-8, 0-6 MIAA) started out the game in a zone defense itself. That did not last long. The Hornets shot 11-of-26 from the 3-point line and made five 3s in the first quarter. The ball moved very well for Emporia State (9-4, 4-3 MIAA) and it was able to cash in on numerous wide-open looks.

Once the Hornets got going offensively, Mize was forced to make a defensive switch out of the zone.

“The biggest thing was the 1-2-2 looked more like a matchup when they got the ball in the middle, so I don’ think that one really hurt us,” Mize said. “Even the 1-3-1, they didn’t get that many 3s out of it. The biggest thing for us was turnovers. Turnovers to transition was the issue, we are not a great transition-defensive team. It gave them a lot more opportunities than us.”

After the first quarter, Lincoln settled in a little bit on the offensive end. The Blue Tigers found success when they got the ball into the middle of Emporia State’s zone defense.

This was the game plan heading in, but it was not executed as much as the team would have liked.

“That was the game plan the whole time,” Mize said. “A lot of it was not being comfortable enough to make the pass. I am not really sure why we wern’t comfortable making those passes. They weren’t showing us anything that we haven’t been simulating in practice. We have eight new faces and three key injuries right now, so we are trying to figure it out as best we can. We need to do it in a hurry.”

Once the Lincoln offense got going, it was already in a big hole. Emporia State took its 23-point lead into the second quarter it hung right around that mark for most of the rest of the game. Lincoln was able to outscore the Hornets 17-13 in the second quarter but was still down 45-26 heading into halftime.

The Blue Tigers were led on offense by Helias graduate Kylie Bernskoetter, who finished with a career-high 15 points. Lincoln could not get very many jump shots to fall Saturday, but Bernskoetter was able to knock down three of the team’s four 3-pointers.

Lincoln’s offense went cold again in the second half. The Blue Tigers shot 9-of-27 from the field in the second half and were only able to put up 21 points following halftime. This allowed Emporia State to pad to its lead and comfortably cruise to the finish line.

Emporia State used a very balanced scoring effort from its starting five players. Tre’Zure Jobe led the way with 19 points, but four Hornets scored in double figures.

Fredricka Sheats finished with 17 points, Karsen Schultz had 15 and Kali Martin totaled 11. Emporia State had assists on 16 of its 25 made field goals.

Lincoln will now switch its focus to a Thursday road game against Nebraska-Kearney. Cleaning up some of the mistakes from Saturday’s loss is at the top of the to-do list for the Blue Tigers.

“Turnovers were the biggest takeaway from today,” Mize said. “There’s nothing else I can really say, except for that we need to clean up the turnovers.”

Tip-off for Thursday’s game is 5:30 p.m.

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