By Jackson Taylor
Game 1 vs. UC Santa Barbara
The Omaha men’s basketball team’s home opener was spoiled on Friday night, as UC Santa Barbara was able to score a last second tip-in to defeat the Mavericks 60-59. the heartbreaking loss came in front of a crowd of 3,538 fans at Baxter Arena.
Senior forward Randy Reed II led the Mavericks with 14 points, a career high. Reed shot 3-5 from the field and made all of his eight free-throw attempts. Sophomore star Tre’Shawn Thurman also contributed with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Freshman guard JT Gibson came off the bench hot with eight points and two three pointers that led a late second half charge for UNO.
Omaha looked shaky to start the game, shooting 29 percent from the field and found themselves down 29-24 at half to the Gauchos.
A Gibson-led run late in the second half put Omaha up 58-54 with just under four minutes to play. However, UCSB went on a 6-1 run against Omaha to win in dramatic fashion. Tre’Shawn thurman threw up a prayer at the buzzer that wasn’t answered, dropping the Mavs to 0-1.
The Mavericks were dreadful from the free-throw line, making 22 out of 35 shots from the penalty strike. Omaha was also out rebounded by the Gauchos 43-39.
Game 2 vs. St. Mary’s
UNO got back on track in Saturday’s match against Division III St. Mary’s, which served as a tune-up game, with Omaha dominating 104-58.
Tim Smallwood led Omaha with 14 points while Zach Pirog also contributed with 12 points and eight rebounds. JT Gibson had another nice game with 13 points. White, Hollins and Jackson were all in double figures as well.
As a team, Omaha shot over 53 percent from the field and made almost 40 percent over their three-pointers attempted.
The Mavs jumped out to a hot start-ed going on an early 13-0 run to lead 15-2 at the first media timeout.
The rest of the game was simply a rout, with Omaha out sizing and outshooting St. Mary’s. Omaha’s 104 points was the first time they’d hit 100 since they beat Central Arkansas 100-75 last November.
Omaha is back in action this Tuesday when they host UMKC at 7 p.m. The game can be found on ESPN3 or AM 1290.