Denver (8-14, 4-5) looked back at their recent past Saturday afternoon and instead, raced forward against the outmanned Omaha Mavericks (3-17, 2-7) at Hamilton Gym. Just a season ago, DU was them and they were DU. Saturday, DU looked straight ahead en route to a decisive 92-63 win. Omaha was 3-16 coming into the game but Denver never played down or gave the Mavs a chance to find hope all afternoon.
In the first half, Denver raced out to a 12-6 lead five minutes into the game. Touko Tainamo took over inside with drives to the hoop, drawing fouls and sinking three out of four foul shots to ignite the Pioneer run. A Taelyr Gatlin three-point make put DU up by double digits at 13:23 forcing Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. The break was to no avail as DU’s Jordan Johnson piled on with a 3-point make to extend the margin, 20-6. A Michael Henn bunny and Coban Porter three-point make extended the lead, 25-10, with 10 minutes left in the half. KJ Hunt capped another Denver run with a three-point make, 30-10, at 8:15. A swarming Denver defense held Omaha to a miserable 4-19 from the floor to build their huge lead. Seven three-point makes gave DU a 38-16 advantage at the 5:00 minute mark. Another Taelyr Gatlin three-point make with 1:55 remaining added to the Mavs misery, 49-19. A KJ Hunt free throw with two seconds remaining put DU at the half-century mark, 50-24, at the halftime break.
Unlike a number of prior games this season, Denver came out in full force the first 20 minutes of the game and overwhelmed the Omaha Mavericks on 59% shooting from the floor while nailing 8 three-point shots to build a 26 point margin. Mikey Henn and Touko Tainamo took over in the paint for the Pioneers with a combined 18 points.
The teams traded buckets the first five minutes of the second half when a Jordan Johnson 3-point shot extended the lead to three dozen points, 62-36. A silky smooth Coban Porter-to-Payton Moore give-and-go made it 71-40 with 13 minutes remaining. A pair of Tristan Green free-throws gave DU a 78-47 lead with ten minutes left. A pair of Tevin Smith free throws gave DU 80 points with 7:15 remaining. Denver began to empty their bench and enjoy the final minutes in a rare blowout victory. A Coban Porter teardrop three-point field goal from the right corner on a feed from Jordan Johnson with five minutes remaining put Denver up 83-52. The Pios capped the final minute of the game with a Tristan Green thunder-slam and technical (for hanging on the rim) and a layup from seldom used Korey Hess as time expired. Final score Denver 94, Omaha 63.
Denver shot 56% from the field and hit 12 three-point shots. Freshman Tevin Smith had 18 points and 2 rebounds in only 24 minutes. Mikey Henn may have played his best game of the season, finishing with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. Touko Tainamo had 11 points and 4 rebounds as Denver’s front line outplayed the Mavericks. Denver’s bench delivered with 33 points.
Yes, this is a game Denver should have won – and they did, handily. And, the game is certain to add confidence to a team that is starting to believe in itself coming off their first road win in Kansas City and a convincing home win. Now, can they continue their string of play with a victory Thursday against the UMKC Roos to make it three-straight and a .500 conference record?