Mavericks enter win column, now look to build off back-to-back wins


Jordan McAlpine

Elena Pilakouta leads the Mavericks in scoring this season with 76 points. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics.

After dropping their first four games out of the gate at No. 12 Iowa State, Creighton, Kansas and Weber State, the Omaha women’s basketball team has responded their last two times out and started to build some momentum in the right direction.

A team that caught fire at the end of last season and became a Cinderella story, making a run all the way to the Summit League championship game, second-year head coach Carrie Banks returns a roster that’s still relatively young. At the same time, that youth is ripe with potential. Banks’ roster also only features seven upperclassmen, including four seniors, but so far, they’re making an impact.

Elena Pilakouta leads the Mavericks in most offensive statistical categories through six games, including points, with 76. Pilakouta scored a career-high 32 points against the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Mavericks moved into the win column with a 70-58 road victory at UIC, which was the Mavericks’ best offensive showing of the year. Omaha shot 47.2% on the night and made 16 free throws, both of which were season-highs for the Mavericks. Omaha got up 9-3 at the start and led 19-10 at the end of the first quarter, but the Mavericks trailed going into halftime, 31-27.

However, the Mavericks took the game over in the second half via a 12-7 run to close out the third quarter and a strong fourth quarter.

Omaha followed that up with a 67-56 win over Tennessee State, which was the home opener for the 2021-22 season. Murdie recorded a double-double in the win over the Lady Tigers, one of two Mavericks to do so in the win, the other being freshman Kennedi Grant. Omaha jumped out to an early 8-5 lead and used a 17-6 run to carry a 32-20 lead into halftime.

The Omaha Mavericks defended well against the Lady Tigers, holding Tennessee State to just a 28.4 shooting percentage (19-67) from the field. Omaha also outrebounded the Lady Tigers, 45-36, and outscored them in the paint, 38-20.

Tennessee State made it interesting in the third quarter and trailed only by two heading into the final quarter, 46-44. However, the Mavericks finished strong, putting up 21 points in the final frame and securing their second win of the season.

The Mavericks will look to make it three straight against College of Saint Mary and will close out the month of December by taking on Kansas State and Northern Colorado at home, St. Thomas and Western Illinois on the road, followed by one final home contest against Kansas City. That trip to St. Thomas will mark the start of Summit League play.