Mavs’ defensive issues continue in home loss to USD


Mitchell Cutcher

Frankie Fidler scored 22 points in the loss to UND. Photo courtesy of Omaha Athletics.

The Mavericks gave up over 90 points for the tenth time this season in their 91-69 home loss to South Dakota Thursday night. South Dakota was able to control the game, limit transition chances for Omaha and ultimately get to the paint on the offensive end. The Coyotes scored at will from there.

“I thought that they bullied us in the paint,” said Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen. “Our resistance was not good, especially in the first half. Whether it was bigs, guards, or a mismatch when we went down to double. I don’t think our doubles were that sharp and I don’t think our rotations were that sharp coming back out.”

The Mavericks simply had no answer for the South Dakota offense and their high ball screens. Omaha was unable to make adjustments to the South Dakota screens and suffered the consequences in the paint, as the Coyotes big men would back a guard down who was switched on to them. The Coyotes also were able to hit their shots from behind the arc as they shot 9-19 from deep.

Despite Omaha shooting almost double the number of free throws that their opponent shot, the Mavericks still fell by more than 20 due to their inability to make shots from the floor. Omaha was on the verge of mounting a comeback in the second half when they had cut the Coyote lead down to nine.

However, the Mavericks then went more than four minutes without making a shot. Between cold stretches and the inability to shut down the high ball screens from South Dakota, it made for another home blowout loss.

One player who continued to shine for Omaha was freshman Frankie Fidler, who scored 22 and played a game-high 35 minutes. Fidler came in fresh off a career-high 37 points in the loss at North Dakota. Fidler did it all for Omaha as the freshman was the focal point for the Omaha offense at times and played solid defense with a block and a steal.

“He’s been fantastic, and he has had a great freshman year,” Hansen said of Fidler’s play. “It’s not like we ‘re asking him to just make stand up shots or be a defender; a lot of freshmen can ease into that. We’re asking him to do a lot for us, and that’s what’s really amazing about his development because he’s having to play well in transition, make shots in the half court, handle the ball, guard the point guard or four, play the four. So, we’ve thrown a lot at him, and he’s handled it and it has been fantastic to watch him develop.”

Another guy for Omaha that had a stellar night was Felix Lemetti who scored 18 points and had the highlight of the night with a buzzer beater from behind half court just before halftime. Lemetti shot the ball well, making three of his six shots from behind the three-point line, and was responsible for three of the four threes that Omaha made. Lemetti also did an excellent job of pushing the tempo for Omaha, but South Dakota was able to get back and cut down on the fast break chances.

Tasos Kamateros was a difference-maker, as the big man was able to get the Omaha guards switched on to him and use the height difference in his favor in route to scoring 20 points. Boogie Anderson was another Coyote player who had a solid outing with his 12 points, but he also was the floor general for South Dakota.

Omaha will next take the court when they travel to Brookings, SD, to take on the undefeated number one team in the league, South Dakota State. That game is on Saturday, Feb. 12. Following that, Omaha will return home for their last home game of the season on Thursday, Feb. 17 when the Mavericks will host Denver. Omaha closes out the regular season with back-to-back road games against Western Illinois and Saint Thomas.