The Mavericks played their fourth game in eight days and walked away with the same result as their previous two. It was a shooting dual Thursday night at Baxter Arena, but for the third consecutive game, Omaha fell short — this time against Summit League-leading South Dakota State, 95-86.
“Well, we’re 1-3 and we got the first one,” Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen said on playing four games in eight days. “We have lost three single-digit games and two of them went down to the last possession. I feel good about how we’re playing but I don’t feel good because our guys haven’t been rewarded.”
The Mavericks have had a tough season so far that has been plagued by injuries and a tough schedule. On top of that, the Mavericks are in the midst of a stretch of five games in 10 days. The Mavericks started the stretch off well with a home win over North Dakota, but then fell just short in back-to-back games against North Dakota State and UMKC.
Omaha looked to respond after that loss at UMKC, but faced the same result they have most of the season. It was the 15th loss of the season for this Omaha team, which has put together a 3-15 record. Omaha is also 2-5 in Summit League play.
Thursday night, SDSU took an early lead and never looked back. Once again, the Mavericks put up a good fight, and at one point even led during the first half. However, the three-point shooting from the Jackrabbits proved to be too much. SDSU’s Baylor Scheierman finished the night with 26 points and was a thorn in the Mavericks’ side.
Another similar theme from previous games this season, Omaha looked their best when their bench was put into the game. Darrius Hughes scored on four straight possessions after entering the game off the Omaha bench. Nick Ferrarini added 17 points and Kyle Leudtke also scored 16 off the bench, alongside Hughes’ 15.
“It gives us some flexibility to come off of,” Hansen said of the role his bench has played this season. “If our starters start great then we can ride it a bit, if things are struggling, we know that we have confidence in our bench to come in and pick us up and help us.”
SDSU’s game plan was clear from the opening tip — play fast and shoot threes. The Jackrabbits did just that as they scored 90 points for the seventh time this season. SDSU also made 14 of their 30 shots from deep on the night, which proved to be the difference. Scheierman made six of those 14 and seemingly did it all for the Jackrabbits in the win. He also brought in 11 rebounds.
In what was a shooting battle on both sides, Omaha had a couple guys of their own who had the hot hand from behind the arc. Marco Smith, Leudtke and Ferrarini all made more than three shots from deep as the team combined for 12 total. The Mavericks only made six total threes in the previous two games combined.
Ferrarini led Omaha with his 17 points and finished 3-for-5 from deep. Smith also had a strong showing in the loss, as he scored 14 and was a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc. Smith also added six assists. Frankie Fidler scored 13 points and pulled in five rebounds.
The Mavericks will close out their 10-day stretch on Saturday when they travel to South Dakota. That game will tip at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 15. After that, Omaha will be off for a week before traveling to Denver on Jan. 22. The Mavericks will then return home on Jan. 27 to take on last year’s Summit League champions — Oral Roberts.