Banks era begins with aplomb for Omaha basketball


Jack Hoover

Omaha’s Claire Killian, who made the game winner against Northern Colorado. Photo by Candice Mayfield.

It may be early days for Carrie Bank’s and her time with the Omaha women’s basketball team, but already things seem to be trending upwards.

In the past two seasons, the Mavericks have won only one conference road game against a Division I opponent. That last win came in a 51-42 win against Detroit Mercy on Nov. 29, 2019. Detroit Mercy would go on to finish 4-25 that season.

With two games played in the 2020-21 season already, it seems the Mavericks won’t have to wait so long for their next road win.

In their first game of the season and the first game with Banks in charge, the Mavericks traveled to Ames, IA to take on the No. 15 Iowa State Cyclones.

A loss in this game could easily be forgiven against one of the best teams in the nation. However, Omaha showed up to this game with every intention of getting a result. The Mavericks fought hard against the Cyclones and at halftime, were only facing a deficit of 33-22.

The second half saw a more dominant showing from the Cyclones as they ended up taking a 69-43 victory. Despite the loss, the Mavericks can take valuable lessons that are learned when laying on the road against Top 25 opposition.

The loss against Iowa State seemed to spur Omaha in their next game as they looked to break the winless road streak against Northern Colorado.

Against the Bears, the Maverick offense came alive. Omaha and Northern Colorado traded baskets for nearly the entire game with both teams scoring at a high rate. In a tense fourth quarter, senior Claire Killian displayed her leadership on the team by laying in the ball with 1.1 seconds left to give the Mavericks a 66-64 win.

Aside from Killian’s winner, a number of Mavs stood out as top performers.

Sophomore Sarah Schmitt had a career day as she led the way for the Mavericks in scoring with a huge 18-point performance. Junior Josie Filer also scored some important buckets down the stretch in what was a 13-point game for the Des Moines native.

In the past, a close road game would have more often than not ended in a loss for the Mavericks. The team’s willingness to fight until the end displays a resoluteness from Omaha that has been missing in recent years. While the seasons may be in its infancy, the signs for Omaha are promising.

In a season impacted by COVID, the Mavericks non-conference schedule has been prone to change. Omaha’s first Summit League game is scheduled for Jan. 2 at home against Oral Roberts.