Omaha had hit a rough patch in the season and came into their game against South Dakota having lost their last nine games. The Mavericks didn’t allow that streak to reach double digits and took down the Coyotes 80-72 on a cold winter Thursday night.
“We were on a long losing skid but with this group we stay together through every practice, and every game,” said Frankie Fidler after the game. “Every Monday of the new week we are ready to work, and we put the past behind us. This week we had a good three days of practice, good shoot around today. It paid off today.”
Omaha started the game sluggish and fell behind 8-4 while shooting 2-7 from the field in the first five minutes of the game. The Mavericks received a spark from Frankie Fidler who scored nine of their first 11 points. During this stretch in the game Omaha kept cutting the Coyotes’ lead down to three or less but could never take the lead.
Luke Jungers would come into the game early in the first half but quickly picked up two fouls and spent most of the half on the bench. With two minutes left in the half, Jungers reentered the game and gave the Mavericks a spark, hitting back-to-back threes. This spark bolstered Omaha onto a 12-4 run and the game would enter the half tied at 39.
The Mavericks received one of Fidler’s better halves of basketball in the first half where he scored 15 points. After the rocky start from the other Omaha players, Ja’Sean Glover and JJ White helped boost the Mavericks at the end of the half. The pair of guards combined for 16 points at the midway point of the game.
Free throws and three-point field goals were the story of the second half for South Dakota. The Coyotes quickly found themselves in the bonus when the Mavericks committed their seventh team foul of the half with 14:28 left in the game. USD was also clutch from deep; whenever Omaha tied it, the Coyotes hit a three.
The Mavericks took the lead and pulled away with the help of freshman guard Tony Osburn who hit two threes in the second half. His first three tied the game and the second came moments later to give the Mavericks a five point lead as they pulled out the win. Osburn finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
Omaha in the end received a stellar performance from Frankie Fidler. The sophomore forward finished with 27 points–his second straight game with more than 20 points–and 10 rebounds. Two other players who stood out were the backcourt duo of JJ White and Ja’Sean Glover, who finished with 11 points each.
Another story from the game was the crowd that showed up for the Mavericks return after a two game road trip. Omaha head coach Chris Crutchfield said that for Omaha to be successful, they need to have a strong home court advantage. The fans at Baxter Arena gave him just that on a cold snowy night.
“I told our guys in the locker room I’m not sure who’s gonna come tonight,” Coach Crutchfield said. “I’m so happy that those fans keep coming back to games, and keep supporting us. That’s what we’re going to need to grow this program.”