In Omaha’s second game of the Big Sky/Summit League Challenge, it was the Eastern Washington Eagles who walked away victorious, 92-81. Between Omaha’s foul trouble in the second half and a lack of defensive stops, Rylan Bergersen and the Eagles proved to be too much. The loss was the seventh straight for the Mavericks.
Scoring 92 points, Eastern Washington showed why they were coming in as 21st in the country in tempo. The Eagles also looked to get out and run in this game, as they recorded 17 fast break points. Omaha guard Nick Ferrarini said that wasn’t something that affected the Mavericks coming into the game.
“We like to play up tempo too,” said Ferrarini. “It was the same kind of style and we prepared for them like we have prepared for a lot of other teams. They did a good job of hitting some shots and coming in and playing well.
“More stops, we need more stops.”
This was the message Ferrarini echoed throughout his post-game interview. Ferrarini also said that when you score more than 80 points, you should expect to win. You can’t give up 90 points and expect to win the game, though.
Coach Derrin Hansen shuffled Omaha’s starting lineup for this contest, giving Kyle Leudtke the start over Frankie Fiddler. Fiddler played well in that role and the freshman threw down a reverse dunk just moments after entering the game. Fiddler also contributed 12 points, six rebounds and had one block while Leudtke struggled in the starting role.
Once again for the Mavericks, it was the bench that did the bulk of the team’s scoring. The bench combined for 44 points, led by Ferrarini with 23 points. This was the fifth time this season that the team’s leading scorer, or the person tied for the most points, came from the bench.
“About three weeks ago, we were down to nine or ten guys practicing, so we were going to have a lot of coming and going,” Hansen said. “Guys getting healthy and getting back in then when we played, we knew we were going to have a lot of trying to figure out our lineup and rotations on the fly.”
Opposite to what had happened lately, Omaha was able to get out and score early as they put up 46 points in the first half. Hansen said that Omaha was able to start this game how they wanted and Ferrarini echoed that it was nice to not be down big and have to claw their way back into it.
However, Hansen stressed that Omaha has to do a better job of not allowing teams to jump out on them. Eastern Washington was able to take an 18-11 lead early.
EWU’s Steele Venters came into this game averaging just under 20 points a game and hit his first four shots from deep. Omaha was then able to contain Venters, as he only made two of his next eight shots. However, Bergersen took over and finished with 30 points. As a team, the Eagles shot 43.5% from three in this one, which ended up being the difference.
Hansen ended his press conference by saying Omaha needs to get healthier, and emphasized the importance of figuring out their lineup before the start of conference play. Hansen also added that Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler is close to coming back, but he did not have a timetable for when that return would be.
Omaha (1-7) will now turn their focus to their home matchup with Drake on Dec. 8. Omaha will then play their last non-conference home game against Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Dec. 11 before traveling to Las Vegas to take on UNLV on Dec. 15. The Mavericks will start conference play by welcoming St. Thomas to the Summit League on Dec. 20.