By Mo Muwwarah, Opinion Editor
UNO turned a three-point gap into a 19-point gulf over the final six first-half minutes, coasting to a 93-67 win Saturday over Emporia State.
The win was UNO’s third straight, and helps to build momentum for a stretch in which the Mavericks (13-7, 10-6) face just one team ahead of them in the MIAA standings. The Mavs also ended a three-game skid at home.
“I’ve got to give our guys credit, they’ve been resilient,” head coach Derrin Hansen said. “We bounced back well from a couple streaks where we could have hung our heads and finger-pointed. It shows the maturity of our group.”
Balanced scoring carried UNO, as five players scored in double digits, led by starters Mitch Albers’ 16 points and Torrian Harris’ 14. Harris posted career highs of 13 rebounds and eight assists. Senior reserve Jeff Martin added 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range.
John Karhoff shouldered the scoring load early for UNO. The 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman from Omaha Creighton Prep scored the first eight points for the Mavs. Matt Starks, who substituted for Karhoff early, added six points in the early going.
“Our staff did a good job of keeping our bigs fresh,” Hansen said. “I thought they gave us a lift.”
With just under six minutes left, Emporia State’s Michael Tyler, who led all scorers with 24 points, cut the UNO lead to 32-29 with a 3-pointer. It was the last highlight of the half for the Hornets.
Mitch Albers keyed the Mavs’ 19-3 run, drilling three 3-pointers and throwing down a dunk. Meanwhile, the Hornets missed five shots in a single possession at one point.
Harris said teamwork was key to the Mavs’ surge, which resulted in a 51-32 halftime lead.
“We’ve been working on coming out faster,” he said. “We were all making the extra pass and finding the open guy.”
Of the Mavs’ 21 first-half baskets, 16 came on assists.
“I thought we passed up some good shots to give a teammate a great shot,” Hansen said.
The second half was never close, as the Hornets never reduced the deficit to less than 20 after UNO opened the scoring.
The only disappointment in the half was Harris falling short of a triple-double.
“We should have gotten him back in so he could get the triple-double,” Albers said with a laugh.
Harris said a friend in the crowd alerted him to the situation.
“He was like, ‘two more assists,'” Harris said. “But then coach took me out with five minutes left. I was bugging him the whole five minutes.”
Albers and Hansen noted that teams are generally either upping their intensity down the stretch or falling by the wayside, and the Mavericks are aiming to stay in the former category.
“We’re picking it up, playing good defense and getting stops,” Albers said. “We needed this one at home.”