The Mavericks played back-to-back games in the state of North Dakota, but returned to Omaha without a victory. The Mavericks first fell to North Dakota State on Thursday, 71-64, and faced a similar result against North Dakota on Saturday, where Omaha lost 92-85.
Going into the road trip, Omaha was fresh off of a buzzer-beater and a home win over UMKC, and the Mavericks were looking to build upon that and move closer to a spot in the Summit League tournament. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, they fell behind early in both games and were unable to dig themselves out of the hole. Omaha trailed at the half and tried to mount a comeback in the second half in both games but ended up running out of steam.
Against NDSU, the difference was on the free-throw line. The Bison were able to shoot 30 free throws compared to the Mavericks’ 11. This has been a common issue for Omaha over the course of this season, as the Mavericks rank eighth in the Summit League in free throws attempted per game.
Omaha did a great job of shutting down Rocky Kreuser, however, as the NDSU big man scored only seven points. He also spent much of the game in foul trouble. However, other players stepped up for NDSU, as Sam Griesel, a Nebraska native, led the way with 17 points and nine rebounds. Tyree Eady also finished with 15 points.
After the loss to NDSU, the Mavericks went into Grand Forks looking to sweep North Dakota on the season and claim their first road win of the season, but the Fighting Hawks had other plans. UND shot lights out from behind the arc and finished 14-for-29 from deep as a team. Another problem for Omaha was finding a second scorer in the contest. Frankie Fidler had a career-high 35 points, but the Mavericks struggled offensively otherwise.
UND was able to spread the love on the offensive end, as the Fighting Hawks had five different players who scored in double figures. Paul Bruns led the way with 21 points. Tsotne Tsartsidze and Bentiu Panoam also finished with 15 points each.
Another problem the Mavericks ran into against UND was foul trouble with their big men. Both Darrius Hughes and Dylan Brougham fouled out and Omaha was only able to get 33 minutes from their two bigs. The foul trouble led to Omaha having to play smaller lineups at times and the Mavericks were led in rebounds by an unlikely candidate. Point guard Felix Lemetti led Omaha with eight rebounds.
Ultimately, Omaha lost another close one, but there was a positive in the loss. Fidler has turned a corner over the course of the last four games and has become the primary scoring option for Omaha. UND had no answer for the freshman as Fidler made all five of his shots from three-point range and seemed to make every contested layup. Last week against UMKC, Fidler scored his then career-high with 25 and hit the game-winner, but he set another career-high at UND.
Omaha will return home on Thursday, Feb. 10 to take on South Dakota. Following that, Omaha will go back on the road to Brookings, SD, to face South Dakota State on Feb. 12. The Mavericks will then welcome Denver to Baxter Arena on Feb. 17 for Omaha’s senior night.