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story.lead_photo.caption Lincoln forward Simone Jordan dribbles around Nebraska-Kearney guard Klaire Kirsch during Thursday's game at Jason Gym. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

The Lincoln women's basketball team got the shots it wanted to take Thursday night. It just took a little too long for those shots to finally find the bottom of the net.

Lincoln shot 2-of-15 from the floor in the first quarter, falling behind early in a 68-53 loss to the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers at Jason Gym.

"We just need more reps and have to figure out a group that works really well together," Lincoln coach Drea Mize said.

Jordan Simone made her season debut for the Blue Tigers. Starting at forward, Simone finished the game with five points and helps get Lincoln closer to being at full strength.

"We have a few kids that are finally at a 'full go' after really limiting their minutes back in November and December," Mize said. "We're trying to figure out what our identity is going to be."

Mize thinks that identity will start on the defensive end. Although Lincoln lost by 15 points, the Blue Tigers committed one fewer turnover than the Lopers.

"We were losing 9-5 in turnovers at halftime, so I'm happy we were able to make the adjustment," Mize said. "We just need to put two halves together."

Lincoln was down 5-4 early in the first quarter, until Nebraska-Kearney went on a 19-2 run. The Blue Tigers were held without a field goal from the 8:07 mark of the first quarter to the 7:18 mark of the second quarter.

Lincoln missed 15 consecutive shots during that stretch and trailed 24-6.

"When stuff is not falling offensively, it's really hard to get teams to be defensive-minded," Mize said.

Jordan ended the drought by making a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Moments later, she made a basket and drew a foul, and when the Blue Tigers grabbed the offensive rebound off the missed free throw, AJ Bradley made another 3 to close the Lopers' lead to 26-14 with 5:35 left in the second quarter.

"That was a sigh of relief and gave us a push forward," Mize said of Jordan's 3.

Lincoln outscored Nebraska-Kearney in both the second and fourth quarters. The Blue Tigers ended the first half on a 6-0 to trim its deficit to 31-20 at halftime.

Haylie Holloway made a pair of free throws to open the second half, then Virja Lewis — who was scoreless in the first half — got a shot in the lane to fall with 8:02 left in the third quarter, closing the gap to 31-24.

"That one-dribble power move is really good for her," Mize said of Lewis. "We have to get her to buy into that moving forward."

However, while Lincoln won the scoring battle in the second and fourth quarters, Nebraska-Kearney dominated in the first and third quarters.

The Lopers answered with a 9-0 run and led by double digits the rest of the game, taking a 50-31 lead into the fourth quarter.

Nebraska-Kearney was getting tough shots to fall in the third quarter that weren't going through the hoop for Lincoln in the first quarter.

"We weren't finishing anything with a box-out, and that killed us a few times," Mize said. "We did a good job of getting them in short shot clock situations, but then moving forward, we weren't able to finish that last 6-8 seconds."

Klaire Kirsch led Nebraska-Kearney (7-0) with a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds.

"She did a great job from the 3-point line tonight," Mize said of Kirsch, who was 3-of-7 beyond the arc.

Niyah Jackson was the only Blue Tiger in double figures with 12 points. Bradley finished with nine points and eight rebounds, while Vivian Chigbu scored all eight of her points in the fourth quarter.

Lincoln (0-6) hosts Fort Hays State (5-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers lost 79-72 to Central Missouri on Thursday.

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