The return of junior forward Mitch Hahn was not enough to spark the Mavericks to victory on Thursday night against the North Dakota State Bison at the Scheels Center in Fargo, North Dakota. UNO fell by a score of 58 to 73.
Hahn scored nine points in his return to the court, with seven defensive rebounds, an assist and a block.
Having been kept off the court by a recurring shoulder injury, Hahn had been limited in the beginning of the season, missing games in the non-conference. Further aggravation led to an extended leave of absence from the court that has lasted since Dec. 5.
The forward returns to a team that desperately needs him – the Mavs are 7-16 overall, with two conference wins and five conference losses. Without Hahn’s towering figure, Omaha was forced to face matchups with as much as a whole foot of disadvantage in some individual cases.
With the win (along with a later win), North Dakota moves up to 12-10 overall, with four wins and three losses in the Summit League. They currently sit at third in the Summit League, preceded by South Dakota State in first and South Dakota in second.
Omaha shot reasonably well, with 42.6 percent in field goals, 31.3 percent from the 3-point line, and a phenomenal 92.9 percent from the free-throw line, having missed only one from the charity stripe. Rebounds were low for the Mavs; Omaha gathered 25 boards overall to NDSU’s 33. The away team totaled four steals, and only 10 personal fouls on the night.
Paul Miller led North Dakota State to victory with 25 points, seven rebounds and a team-leading five assists. The team managed to commit seven steals and shoot 100 percent from the foul line and 42.3 percent from the 3-point arc. Tyson Ward also scored double digits from the bench with 17 points, while leading the team with three steals. Spencer Eliason tied with Miller in getting seven rebounds, making 40 percent of the team’s offensive boards.
Star guard Zach Jackson was limited to only 10 points and three rebounds but sneaked in two steals and three assists. Daniel Norl led the team in scoring with 13 points, but also led the team with four turnovers. KJ Robinson followed closely behind in each statistical category, with 12 and three, respectively. Forward Lamar Wofford-Humphrey led the team with two blocks, and Matt Pile added another, along with five points, three rebounds and an assist.
Freshman Ayo Akinwole saw 10 minutes with no statistical marks on the box score. “Ayo’s been thrown into the fire a little bit,” said Hahn earlier in the season when talking about the team effort to overcome injury. Akinwole was the most disadvantaged by the size matchups against opponents in Hahn’s absence: he is tied with KJ Robinson for “shortest Maverick” at 6 feet.
Next, Omaha will play an anticipated match at Summit League leader, South Dakota State, after losing to the Jackrabbits at home earlier this month. The game will be broadcast on Midco, ESPN 3, and 1180 AM Zone 2.