Omaha used their quickness and speed to create turnovers (20 to 11) and steals (14 to 7) to defeat the Denver Pioneers at Magness Arena, 84-83, Wednesday night. Omaha’s Mitch Han scored with .7/10’s of a second left in the contest. Denver was fortunate to take the lead on a C.J. Bobbitt layup with .12 seconds remaining but the Mavericks responded by working the ball inside to Han as the clock ran down. With Daniel Amigo out of the game with five fouls, Denver could not stop the 6’8″ Han from delivering the knockout blow.
Turnovers and steals gave the Mavericks an incredible 16 possession advantage – too much of hurdle for almost any team to overcome.
How did Denver stay close after giving up so many possessions? Well, the Pioneers shot a blistering 59.6% from the field and 53.3% from the arc (8-15) to hang close but Omaha’s defensive pressure and star Marcus Tyus’ 30 points and 6 rebounds sent the Pioneers reeling to their second consecutive loss.
In the first half, the teams rained six 3-point shots in the first five minutes with the teams tied at 11 each. Daniel Amigo, C.J. Bobbitt and Duke Douglas traded baskets with the Mavericks and a Joe Rosga 3-point shot knotted the score at 21-21 at the 12:21 mark. Over the next four minutes, the teams struggled to find net. A layup by Duke Douglas and a free throw by Christian Mackey was countered by a Marcus Tyus 3-point shot that drew the teams even at 24-24 with 9:44 to go in the first half. Over the next five minutes, the Pioneers went on a run, capped by a layup by C.J. Bobbit to extend the Pio lead to 35-26 with five minutes to go – but the Mavs responded with their own run. Two 3-point buckets by Marcus Tyus and another tray by Zach Jackson keyed the Mavs run and gave the visitors a 46-42 lead going into the break. In a mere five minutes, a 13 point swing went in the visitor’s favor.
The teams traded points the first five minutes of the second half. Denver began to heat up from the field with steals and baskets by Joe Rosga. A 3-point bucket by Jake Pemberton at 15:16 gave Denver a 55-51 lead. Denver traded baskets the next five minutes as the margin stayed at 4-points, 68-64, with 10:16 to go. A 3-point shot by C.J. Bobbitt gave the Pioneers a 76-74 lead that DU held until a Marcus Tyus 3-point bucket at 4:18 to take the lead, 77-76, for Omaha. No more than three points separated the teams the balance of the game. The teams were tied at 1:17 following a pair of Marcus Tyus free throws. Daniel Amigo fouled out with 36 seconds to go. After Omaha’s Tre’Shawn Thurman hit one of two free throws, the Pioneers C.J.Bobbitt hit a driving layup with only 12 seconds to go gave the Pioneers the lead, 83-82 and a possible win. Following a timeout, Omaha drove the length of the court, worked the ball inside, and scored an easy bucket from Han to win the game, 84-83.
Denver just couldn’t make the big stop.
Joe Rosga led the Pioneer scoring with 21 points and Daniel Amigo chipped in with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Marcus Tyus had 30 points while Zach Jackson and Daniel Norl had a dozen each for the Mavs.
After the game, head coach Rodney Billups said, “Turning it over 20 times, we can’t expect to win. Their player (Marcus Tyus) was the best guy on the floor. We have to dictate defensively and not let them get comfortable. ”
The slide comes at a tough time for the Pioneers, losing three out of their last four games heading into their final game of the conference season against South Dakota State University.