(Cape Girardeau, Mo.) – Senior forward Kim Nezianya scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season, but it was not enough as the Kansas City women’s basketball team (0-2) fell 76-74 to instate rival Southeast Missouri State (2-1) on Thursday night at the Show Me Center.
“What we take from this loss is that we have to play hard for 40 minutes and never let up,” Nezianya said. “We are getting better every day. We still have a long way to go to be where we want to be, but we will get there.”
Three other ‘Roos reached double figures, led by freshman Calli White’s 14, while senior Eilise O'Connor added 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists and sophomore Kelsey Barnwell chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The ‘Roos built an early four point lead at 6-2 on a pair of Nezianya field goals and a layup by O’Connor, but a 22-7 stretch by the Redhawks put the home team in front by a game-high 11 midway through the half.
Southeast Missouri State maintained its 11 point advantage at the 3:16 mark when the ‘Roos began chipping away, starting with a pair of Jordan Evans free throws.
Sophomore Kelsey Barnwell would add three free throws of her own down the first half stretch, cutting the SEMO lead to 40-33 heading into the locker room.
Coming out of the break, Nezianya buried a three to bring the lead to three.
The Redhawks countered with a three-point play, but Nezianya answered with a three-point play of her own and White followed with a three to slice the lead to just one at 43-42.
The lead remained at one at the 13:34 mark when Nezianya knocked down a pair of free throws to give the ‘Roos the lead with 12:54 left to play, 50-49, their first since 16:03.
After trading baskets, SEMO would go on a 14-2 run to push the lead back to double digits at 64-54 with 6:37 on the clock.
A jumper by Taylor Leathers and two White free throws chipped the lead down to six, but Southeast stretched the lead back to nine two minutes later at 71-62 with just over three minutes remaining.
The ‘Roos, however, did not go quietly, scoring the next seven points on a three by White, a jumper by O’Connor and two Barnwell free throws, pulling them to within two at 71-69.
The two teams then traded field goals, keeping the deficit at two with just 37 second to go.
On the ensuing SEMO possession, the ‘Roos chose not to foul, leaving it up to the defense, but the Redhawks scored with just four second left on the shot clock to take a four point lead with 11 seconds left.
White would knock down her third three with four seconds left, but it was too little, too late as Southeast Missouri held on for the 76-74 win.
Defensively, Kansas City limited the Redhawks to 42.5 percent shooting from the field, including 23.1 percent from beyond the arc, while knocking down 36.8 percent of their three-point attempts.
The Blue & Gold will continue their two game road trip on Saturday when they head to Edwardsville, Ill., for a 4 p.m. contest with SIU Edwardsville.