The Omaha (3-12, 2-2) men’s basketball team defeated North Dakota (4-11, 0-2) Thursday night at Baxter Arena, 98-82, to grab their second conference win and the Mavericks’ third win of the season overall. The win was truly a team effort as the Mavericks had six different players score in double digits and the team shot 55% from the floor.
Coming in, the Mavericks were looking to recover from an embarrassing road loss at Oral Roberts, 107-62, on Jan. 1. However, Omaha looked to be a much different team early on against North Dakota. The Mavericks took control early and took a 52-40 lead into the half, a much different start than the loss at Oral Roberts. Marco Smith put it bluntly — Omaha couldn’t have a repeat performance.
“We just looked at ourselves in the mirror, that was really on us,” Smith said about their loss to Oral Roberts. “We told ourselves that was just a fluke. We just stayed with it, we didn’t get too high or too low. So, when we came into practice, the last couple of days we were really just locked in, and we can’t let that happen again.”
Omaha pulled away in this one at the start of the second half, when the Mavericks opened the half on an 8-0 run. From there, it was all Omaha for the majority of the second half as the Mavericks at one point stretched their lead to 33. Once Omaha was up 96-69, the Mavericks began to coast into the finish line.
North Dakota had a pretty simple game plan, as the Fighting Hawks shot 23 threes while also looking to work the ball inside. This is where Omaha excelled, as the Mavericks were able to close out on shooters and not allow them to take open shots. North Dakota was able to find success in the paint, however, as the Fighting Hawks were able to score 42 points.
“You need to get out on them and better have a hand up on the catch,” said Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen on the Mavericks’ success guarding the three ball. “You saw that in the last six minutes when they went ‘bang bang bang’ and some in transition. We were good in defensive transition and made it harder on them, late we weren’t as good.”
Matt Norman led North Dakota in scoring as he tallied 20 points and contributed six rebounds for the Fighting Hawks. Tstotne Tsartsidze added 13 points and four rebounds, while Ethan Igbanugo had 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. One stat that did not help on the North Dakota side was turnovers, as the Fighting Hawks had 11.
On the Omaha side, it was Frankie Fidler leading the way with 20 as the freshman extended his streak of double-digit points to four consecutive games. Omaha’s Felix Lemetti also scored 15 points and Smith had 12, while also chipping in seven assists. Another stat that continues to be a point of emphasis for the Mavericks has been bench points, as the Omaha bench scored 44 points.
Omaha will look to continue their momentum when they take on North Dakota State on Jan. 8. After that, the Mavericks will travel to Kansas City on Jan. 10 for a makeup game against UMKC. The Dec. 30 game between the two was canceled due to COVID-19 issues on the Roos’. Omaha’s game against North Dakota was their first of five in a 10-day stretch due to the rescheduling of the game against UMKC.