UNO Men’s Basketball extends home winning streak to 16 games


Caleb Johnson

Omaha’s Ayo Akinwole jumps after a ball. Photo by Kylie Squiers/the Gateway

The UNO Maverick men’s basketball team faced off against Western Illinois and Purdue Fort Wayne this week at home.

The Mavericks’ first home opponent was the Leathernecks of Western Illinois Thursday night. The game turned into an unexpected thriller for the home crowd.

UNO was favored by 11 points headed into the game, according to Vegas. It was a good night for those Western Illinois bettors who picked the Leathernecks to beat the spread.

UNO won the game 87-85 but were not in control for most of the contest. Western Illinois held the lead for over 30 of the 40 minutes on the game clock.

The Mavericks looked lackluster in the first half shooting 35% from the field and 2-11 from the 3-point line.

UNO looked to be in deep trouble, as the Mavs were down 14 points with 17:22 left to go in the second half.

But off the back of KJ Robinson’s career-high night of 24 points and Matt Pile’s double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds the Mavericks were able to get into an overtime period.

Robinson even had a chance to hit a game winner, but his go-ahead layup was blocked by Zion Young for Western Illinois.

UNO had a great overtime period shooting 60% and 8-8 from the free throw line.

The Mavericks ended up having 5 players in the double digits for points as KJ Robinson put up 24, Matt Pile had 16, JT Gibson had 13, Marlon Ruffin scored 12 and Ayo Akinwole finished with 11.

In their second home game of the week, the Mavericks didn’t need to fight back from such a large deficit, as they had a much better start against the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons in their 75-71-point victory.

The Mavericks led the first half wire-to-wire, 39-32. JT Gibson had another great game with a team-high 23 points as he shot 50% from the field.

Matt Pile was again the leader in rebounds for the team with 11. Five of those 11 rebounds were on the offensive glass.

Again, the Mavericks were able to get five of their players in double digit scoring. The ability for the UNO bench to outscore their opponents has been crucial in their victories this year.

The Mavericks are now T-2 in the Summit league and are half a game back from South Dakota State for first place.

With both of these wins, Omaha basketball has now stayed undefeated at home for their 16th straight game. It has now been a year since Maverick fans have seen a defeat at home, as the last loss came against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles on Dec. 30, 2018.

The Mavericks will look to extend that streak as they stay at home for their next two games. Omaha will host South Dakota on Feb. 2, at noon and North Dakota State on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.