Photo: Marcus Tyus lights up the Pioneers with 30 points in UNO win.
Wednesday night Denver (11-8, 3-3) met University of Nebraska Omaha (11-9, 4-3) at UNO’s Baxter Arena. Denver tried to play the Mavericks at their own game – and it was never close as the Mavericks displayed their quickness and athleticism. Marcus Tyus’ 30 points and 24 points from Tra-Deon Hollins sealed the Pioneers fate. Despite shooting 63.6% from the field, the Pioneers could not stop an aggressive UNO squad that thrives on pressure and playing fast. The Mavericks shot 56.4% from the floor, nailed 12 of 20 3-point shots, had 10 steals and went 23 of 29 from the line to blitz the Pioneers.
From the beginning, Omaha owned the night.
In the first half, the teams traded buckets the first 5 minutes but the Mavs pulled out to a 4 point advantage 9-13 @ 5:07. The next five minutes, UNO began to extend their lead on ball pressure and steals. Maverick Mitch Hahn hit two 3-point bombs and a Tra-Deon Hollins tip-in pushed the lead up to 18-9, Omaha. Two Hollins free throws took the UNO lead to double-digits, 22-11. A layup-&-1 by DU’s Bradley George brought the Mav lead down to 8 points, 21-29. Then, a C.J. Bobbitt jumper with 5:00 minutes remaining in the half closed the lead to 6 points, 27-33. But Omaha countered with a bucket of their own. A Joe Rosga bucket pulled the lead back to 6 but UNO kept countering Denver buckets. In the final 5 minutes, two 3-pointers by UNO’s Zach Jackson extended the Omaha lead to 12. Then, the Mav’s Zach Thurman hit a bucket to end the half, 34-48.
In the first half, seven turnovers (6 steals) killed the Pioneers despite out shooting the hosts from the field 55.6% vs. 50.0%. The Pioneers hit 2 of 6 free throws while the Mavs were a perfect 10 for 10. Omaha’s Marcus Tyus had 15 points at half and Tra-Deon Hollins chipped in with 10. Nothing went right for the Pioneers and the second half was no better.
In the second half, the Pioneers never seemed to challenge the athletic Mavericks. Omaha held a double digit lead nearly the entire half. The star for Denver was Bradley George off the bench with several big 3- point shots to eventually drop the UNO margin to 5 points with 3:15 remaining in the game, 82-87. But Denver could never make the necessary defensive stops to make it any closer – and the Mavericks extended their lead once again. Final score 97-88.
Joe Rosga finished with 18 points. C.J. Bobbitt had 15 points and 4 rebounds and Daniel Amigo chipped in with 16 points and 7 rebounds. The unexpected star for Denver was Bradley George with 17 points and 3 rebounds in only 16 minutes of play. Unfortunately, 23 personal fouls and 13 turnovers ended any Pioneer hopes.
After the game, Rodney Billups said, “When you score 88 points on the road, you would think you would win. The offense is not our problem. The defense is our problem. They were better than us. They were prepared. There are a few bright spots but our defense and rebounding needs to improve – we got out rebounded.”