Coach Derrin Hansen put it best after the double overtime victory against the Denver Pioneers on Thursday night: “I’ve been here twenty years, we’re scored on [that play] twice. Take that for what it’s worth.”
“That play” was a last-second heave down the court from junior Zach Jackson to senior Lamar Wofford-Humphrey, who then kicked the ball out to senior Daniel Norl, standing outside of the 3-point arc. Norl then shot the ball and as the buzzer signaled the end of the first overtime period, the ball banked off the glass and fell into the net to tie the game. The arena exploded and the Mavericks went on to win the game, 86 to 80 in double overtime.
“Norl hit one of the biggest shots of the season,” stated Jackson. When Norl reflected on the decision to shoot the ball with two opponents directly in front of him, Jackson added with a chuckle, “He made a good decision.” Hansen mentioned that, in practice, it usually takes “four or five [attempts] to make it.”
Jackson led the team in scoring once again, racking up his eighth performance of 20 points or more this season. He also added eight rebounds and two steals.
“Everybody’s going to remember the shot that I shot, but we need to give credit to those big-time points that [Jackson] added,” said Norl. Omaha entered the match 0-2 when facing an opponent in overtime, including their season opener against Montana State.
Hansen himself was surprised that the game was going into the win column for Omaha. “The first half, we were average at best. We reverted a little bit,” he said.
Wofford-Humphrey had no reservations about his opinion, stating after the game, “I feel like we’re one of the top-tier teams in the Summit right now.”
The Omaha team improved their league record to 2-3, with a chance to break even against South Dakota later that weekend.
“He saved us. He saved us for real,” emphasized Jackson, when asked about the significance of Norl’s last-second shot to bring the game back in reach.
Norl walked away with 15 points of his own, along with three steals. Freshman Matt Pile was able to rack up six blocks over the course of the game – a career high. “I don’t think I have six blocks this season,” added Norl, who has four to date. Pile also added seven rebounds and 10 glasses. JT Gibson scored 15 points also, with two steals and three assists. Overall, the team shot over 50 percent from the field, but combined for only 10 assists and a whopping 20 turnovers; a comparatively substantial number, even for a double-overtime game.
After the South Dakota matchup, the team goes on the road to face both North Dakota State and South Dakota State. Both games, on Jan. 25 and 30 respectively, will be broadcast on ESPN3 and 1180 AM Zone 2.