Mavericks blow halftime lead in second straight game


Mitchell Cutcher

Akol Arop scored 10 points in the first half. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics.

In Omaha’s last two games, the Mavericks have held the lead at the half, but have not been able to hold on for the win. That was once again the case Saturday night at Baxter Arena as the Mavericks fell to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 87-73.

Omaha has been a team of two halves this season and the Mavericks are yet to put together a complete 40 minutes. Earlier this year, the Mavericks struggled in the first halves of games and found themselves down big early. However, since Omaha returned home after their five-game road trip, the Mavericks have started strong, but haven’t been able to roll it over with them into the second half.

“I thought we were good in the first half and then for the second game in a row we haven’t played as well in the second half,” said head coach Derrin Hansen. “We have prided ourselves on that in the past few years when you looked at first half versus second half, we’ve been plus in a lot of categories, and we’ve been able to over what we did in the first half and be even better.”

Omaha went into the half up by one, 36-35, and the Mavericks were shooting well as a team. They also held Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to just 41% from the field. However, the Islanders started the second half on a 12-4 run and led 47-40 by the time the game hit the under 16 media timeout. Omaha struggled from deep in the second stanza, as they only made 25% of their threes. The Islanders shot 58% from the field in the half.

Omaha was also down to only 10 players, as they were without several players due to injury and personal reasons. Kyle Luedtke missed his second straight game due to injury and Hansen hopes that he will return for their game against UNLV. Frankie Fidler and Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler were also held out of this one. Hansen was unsure as to when the pair will return.

On the court, Darrius Hughes continued where he left off. After scoring 15 against Drake, Hughes put up 19 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Akol Arop also provided the boost that Omaha needed in the first half, as he scored 10 in the half. Nick Ferrarini, who got his first start of the year, struggled in this one as he finished 2-for-11 shooting.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi entered the contest led by Issac Mushilla, but Mushilla scored just two points in the win and spent the night in foul trouble. Trevian Tennyson and Tyrese Nickelson stepped up with 19 and 18 points respectively, which led the Islanders. The one constant for the Islanders was the number of turnovers they forced, as they forced the Mavericks to turn the ball over 24 times.

Technicals were also an issue on the Omaha side Saturday night, as the Mavericks had three technical fouls called on them. Wanjang Tut received a technical in the first half for arguing with an official after a foul call. Marco Smith received one in the second half after an Omaha timeout. Omaha also received a flop warning in the first half and Nick Ferrarini received a technical foul for flopping later in the game.

“I’ve been the coach here for 17 or 18 years and we’ve probably had five technical fouls from a player in a long, long, long time, I know Nick’s is the flop warning,” Hansen said of the three technicals. “In the last year and half, we’ve had a few more than what I had in the first 15, so we addressed that tonight. Those things have to be cleaned up but that’s also our frustration in the second half.”

Omaha (1-9) will look to end their losing streak in Las Vegas as they face UNLV on Dec. 15. After that, Omaha will open conference play as they welcome Saint Thomas to the Summit League on Dec. 20. Omaha will follow that up by hosting Western Illinois on Dec. 22.