The Mavericks played the Bison all the way to the end, but it was North Dakota State who ended up on top, winning Saturday night’s contest by a final score of 71-67. Omaha had several chances to take the lead back late in the second half, but ultimately, due to their poor shooting from behind the arc, the Mavericks were unable to grab their third conference win of the season.
Omaha struggled to put the ball through the hoop early on but eventually were able to pull ahead and take a lead into the half. However, the second half started out in similar fashion, as it took the Mavericks almost five minutes to make their first basket of the second half.
At one point in the second half, Omaha found themselves down eight, forcing Derrin Hansen to call a timeout with four minutes left in the game. After the timeout, the Mavericks cut the deficit to two with 20 seconds remaining. Omaha was unable to catch a break late in the game though, and ultimately, NDSU was able to hold on for the win.
“The message was keep fighting,” said Frankie Fidler of the message during that timeout. “There is a lot of fight in this team, and that’s why I like this group of guys so much. We just never give up, we cut it two points, I think, and we had a chance to go win it.”
Compared to last time out against North Dakota, there was clearly a different pace in this one for the Mavericks. NDSU looked to slow it down and not let the Mavericks get out and run. That allowed the Bison to use their length to close out on the three-point attempts as the Mavericks were just 2-for-20 from deep.The Bison were also able to use their length to block six Omaha shots, making it difficult for the Mavericks to score inside.
Yet, the home side did not break down due to the grit and grind style from NDSU. In other matchups this year, Omaha had fallen apart and gotten behind to the point that they were unable to come back. In this game, however, the Mavericks kept fighting and were within striking distance the entire second half.
“For us to be able to battle that team, I think it says a lot about who we are and what we are trying to do and doing the right thing,” Hansen said about his team’s fight. “We just have to keep battling away and I think we will take it from there.”
For NDSU, 57 of their points came from their starting five, while Omaha saw half their points come from their bench. Rocky Kreuser led the way for the Bison with 25 points and also added eight rebounds. Grant Nelson also played a big part in the win with seven points and four blocks and Tyree Eady added 14 points and two steals.
However, it was a game that did not feature one player scoring a bulk amount of points on the Omaha side. Instead, the Mavericks had five players hovering around eight to 12 points. Nick Ferrarini led the way with 12, Fidler had 10 and three rebounds and Felix Lemetti had nine points, five rebounds and four assists.
The loss marked the second of five games the Mavericks will play over the course of 10 days. The third will come against UMKC just two days later on Jan. 10 in Kansas City. Following their trip to UMKC, the Mavericks will return home on Jan. 13 to take on South Dakota State.