Denver (12-14 Overall, 6-6 Summit League) defeated Omaha (9-18 Overall, 4-7 Summit League) and moved into a third place tie with Fort Wayne with two games to go in Summit League play. Joe Rosga and Daniel Amigo led the first half Pioneer surge with 15 points and 19 points respectively. In the second half it was Joe Rosga who finished with 28 points for the night and timely buckets from Christian Mackey and gritty play by Jake Krafka who collected seven boards for the night, battled under the bucket and scored timely points for Denver.
The Pioneers jumped out to a 10-2 lead with half the points coming from Joe Rosga. But, Omaha knotted the score at a dozen each by the 15:30 minute mark of the first half. DU went on a tear again, capped by a Joe Rosga layup at 11:02 to extend DU’s advantage to 10 points again, 24-14. The teams traded buckets with a Daniel Amigo three and a Joe Rosga two on a goal tending call to keep the lead at double digits. An Abiola Akintola two from close-in and a Jake Holtzman three extended Denver’s lead. A Daniel Amigo bucket ballooned DU’s lead as the Pioneers cruised into halftime with a 52-36 advantage.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Omaha tightened the score to 14 points, 60-46 and DU had to call a timeout. After Omaha narrowed the margin, Christian Mackey responded with a quick four points to take Denver’s advantage back to 14, 64-50. But the Mavericks were not done. Omaha took DU’s margin back down to 10 points and JT Gibson went on a run with two buckets for the Mavs to trail by only 6 points at the 10:40 mark. Joe Rosga countered with a bucket. Then, Jake Krafka came into the game with energy and drew two fouls on hard drives to the bucket. But two quick buckets from Omaha with a little more than three minutes to go by Daniel Norl and Daniel Meyer took the score to 79-71, still within striking distance for the visitors. The teams traded points but an Ade Murkey bucket and a Jake Pemberton 3-point dagger made the score 84-71 with 2:21 to go. The teams traded buckets again but a flying throw-down by Ade Murkey at 1:15 all but sealed Omaha’s fate as the Pioneers built the lead back to 15 points, 88-73. Denver coasted to the end of play, 94-78 final.
On a game short on stout defense, Omaha shot 51.8% from the floor and nailed 6 3-point shots. Denver hit 59.3% of their shots and drained 10 3-pointers. Denver had 12 turnovers to Omaha’s 10. DU out-rebounded Omaha 32-21. Daniel Norl had 21 points and JT Gibson had 14 points to pace the Mavs. Kraka had 7 boards for Denver and four Pioneers finished in double figures.
While head coach Rodney Billups was pleased with the win, he knew the Pioneer defense needs to improve. “We definitely have to get better defensively. We just can’t bank on shooting 60% from the field. We can’t let a team come in and shoot 50 plus percent from the field. Our guys just made shots today. A win like this and a day off tomorrow helps our confidence.”
DU plays Oral Roberts 1:00 pm Sunday at Magness Arena.