By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
In her final performance at the Sapp Fieldhouse, senior Heather Pohl’s double double helped UNO earn a 68-54 win over Dakota Wesleyan and assured the Mavs of their first winning season in three years. Pohl scored 17 points, including 12 in the second half, pulled down 10 rebounds and shot 4 of 7 from three-point range.
“It makes it special when it’s senior night, you always want those seniors who have worked so hard for us to have her teammates get a win for her,” Mavs‘ Head Coach Chance Lindley said. “It’s been great coaching her. We wish we could have had her for more than one year.”
Teammate Jamie Nash led all scorers with 25 points including 9 of 12 shooting and 4 of 5 from long range. Sophomore forward Stacia Gebers grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, and Paige Frauendorfer was the third UNO player in double figures with 11 points.
Dakota Wesleyan led for much of the first half, but Nash converted a three-point play down 33-34 and with just 37 seconds remaining in the first half. UNO took a 36-34 lead into the halftime locker room and made some adjustments to shut down the Tiger three-point attack in the second half.
When the game resumed, Dakota Wesleyan continued to rely on the three, but the Mavs kept the Tigers to just four makes for the rest of the game. Nash’s three-point play to end the first half was part of an 18-5 run that extended into the second half and had UNO up 52-39 with 10:12 to go.
The Tigers followed it up with a run of their own and got within four at 54-48 in under three minutes. Pohl buried a three to make the Maverick lead nine and Nash hit one of her own to extend the lead to 60-48 with 5:31 left.
Dakota Wesleyan cut it to eight, but another three by Pohl was the final nail in the coffin. UNO lead by 11 with 3:16 left and the Tigers made just one shot the rest of the way.
“I think we were fairly consistent in both halves defensively,” Lindley said. “I think what changed…the first half we knew scouting wise who the shooters were and just didn’t do a very good job defensively of locating them.
In both halves, Dakota Wesleyan shot better than 40 percent from long range. It was the only reason the Tigers were in the game at halftime.
Of their 34 halftime points, 27 came on threes, six on two-point field goals and one on a free throw. UNO only allowed four makes on nine three point attempts in the second half.
The rest of the Tiger offense only managed six second half points on a field goal and four free throws.
Through the first 20 minutes Dakota Wesleyan shot 43 percent from downtown, hitting nine threes and building a seven-point lead twice.
“The second half we didn’t really make a lot of adjustments; we just did what we should have the entire game,” Lindley said. “We didn’t leave a whole lot of shots open most of the second half and made them really work for the ones they did.”
“In the first half they made some good shots and knocked them down, and I think that was a credit to them for knocking the shots down but a discredit to us for leaving them just…wide open.”
When the season ends in two games, Heather Pohl will have played 107 games in her UNO career. Although her best season statistics-wise might have been a year ago, Pohl has set most of her career highs this year.
She scored a career-best 23 points against Western Illinois on Jan. 30, had two games with a career-best 11 rebounds, three games with a career-best four assists and had a game with a career-best six threes, also against Western Illinois. In 105 games, Pohl has 1,022 points, averages 34 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line.
“I think she is just truly, a complete player for us and just a good senior leader,” Lindley said. “I think she’s been a good shooter, a good scorer; we’ve known that for years.”
“But with us we’ve been excited to see her become a good rebounder, a good passer and her game has gotten tremendously much, much better. It’s nice to kind of see her be a complete player before she graduates.”