Omaha men’s basketball travels across the country in four-game road stretch

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Jack Hoover
SPORTS EDITOR

Omaha’s Zach Thornhill in a home game against Southern University.
Omaha’s Zach Thornhill in a home game against Southern University. Photo by Stephanie Veloso/the Gateway

There may not be a tougher stretch for the Omaha men’s basketball team to be in this season than the one they’re in now, in terms of the quality of teams they are facing. And the team won’t be getting any home support from these games either.

The Mavericks currently are in the midst of their longest road stretch of the season, as from Dec. 1 to Dec. 11 the team is out of Omaha for four straight road games.

With games in California, Arkansas and Arizona, the Mavericks are putting on the miles as they travel around the country to compete. With their road trip halfway over now, Omaha can feel proud of their performance in the first two games.

In the very first game on the road, Omaha traveled to California to take on mid-major powerhouse Saint Mary’s. While the Gaels weren’t ranked at the time, they came into the game red-hot, as they had just knocked off No. 15 Utah State 81-73 prior to playing Omaha.

The Mavericks weren’t fazed by this challenge, however, as they started off the game in particularly strong fashion. Thanks to a standout first-half performance from sophomore Zach Thornill, who was a perfect 4-4 early on, the Mavericks took a 39-35 lead and the momentum into halftime.

Despite the strong effort from the Mavericks, the second half would see a Saint Mary’s team that played more up to their usual elite standards. The Gael’s Tanner Krebs was the difference maker in the second half, as he lit up the court with 4-4 shooting on three pointers to help his team retake the lead. Overall, Krebs finished with a game-high 19 points.

While Omaha fought to keep it close, the improved scoring and lock-down defense that Gaels displayed in the second half was enough to give Saint Mary’s a hard-fought 75-66 win.

Omaha’s opponent in the next game of their trip didn’t have the same pedigree that Saint Mary’s did, but the Arkansas State Red Wolves were still a quality opponent. The Red Wolves came into the game with an impressive 5-2 record, with wins over Colorado State and Idaho.

The game against Arkansas State went in much the same fashion as it had against Saint Mary’s. Omaha started the game well, taking a 32-25 lead into the half-time break. Again, though, a more inspired effort from their opponents in the second half caused the Mavericks’ fall to defeat.

The Red Wolves in the second half, led by Caleb Fields and his 16, would go on to score more than double the number of points that they put up in the first half. The Maverick offense found it difficult to keep up with the renewed Arkansas State effort, and while they were able to keep it close, Omaha lost 78-73.

Omaha will close out their road trip with a visit to Arizona, as they get set to play Northern Arizona on Dec. 8 before getting ready for a big test against the Arizona Wildcats on Dec. 11. After that, the Mavericks will finally return home on Dec. 15 to play the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The game can be streamed online at OMavs.com or listened to on Mavradio.fm.

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