Mitch Hahn came into the season with a lot to prove. After an injury to his shoulder left him sidelined for much of the 2017-18 campaign, Hahn had one more year to prove his worth as a starter and as a captain.
If there was any doubt about the return of the Hahn, it was silenced on Jan. 10 against North Dakota in Grand Forks.
Down 90-89 at the home of the Fighting Hawks, with eight seconds left on the clock, KJ Robinson kicked out a pass to Hahn, lurking outside the three-point line. He shot and the ball fell through for an Omaha lead.
North Dakota had a chance to tie the game with a final free throw, but Conner Avants missed his second shot and an Omaha rebound sealed the victory for the Mavericks as the buzzer sounded at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
“Winning on the road is hard, and it was our first one. And we had to do everything we could to get it,” said Derrin Hansen, Omaha Head Coach in an Omaha World Herald interview. “We got one that we maybe shouldn’t have because I think [North Dakota will] beat some teams in [the Summit League] this year.”
North Dakota led the game for most of the evening and they led by as many as 14 points in the first half. Omaha’s first lead of the night was with 3:36 left in the game when Zach Jackson nailed a jump shot to bring the score to 85-84. UND and UNO went back-and-forth until Hahn’s three-pointer fell through and Omaha won the night by a score of 92-91.
Hansen knew going in that having Hahn back would have Omaha looking much better this season.
“We have a returning first-team player, but going into last year, we had a pre-season second team pick [in Hahn] … really, we have two all-league guys on our squad,” Hansen said prior to the start of the season.
Hahn was one of four Mavericks scoring in double-digits that night shooting six for 10 and scoring 17 total. Matt Pile added 20 with Jackson and JT Gibson grabbed 15 and 13, respectively. As a team, the Mavs shot with 47 percent accuracy from outside the three-point line– even better than their accuracy from inside the line (a flat 47percent.)
On the season, Hahn is tied with his partner forward, Matt Pile, for third-best scorer on the team with 11 points per game on average (behind Jackson – 17.6 points per game – and Gibson, with 14.2). Hahn’s total of 187 points already eclipses his mark of 176 points from last season where he sat out 16 games due to injury.
Omaha is 9-8 (3-1) on the season and in a three-way tie for second in the Summit League at time the of publication. Their nine wins matches their total from last year.
“I have to give our seniors credit,” Hansen said after the game. “I really think Mitch and Zach have done a great job with our team.”
Omaha plays Western Illinois on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in Macomb before returning home to play South Dakota on Jan. 20.