University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s basketball coach Derrin Hansen said he worried that his team might suffer a letdown after Friday’s emotional opener, in which the Mavericks downed Northern Illinois in their new home at Ralston Arena.
He probably didn’t envision the extent of Sunday’s letdown.
UNO coughed up an 18-point lead with 7:20 left in the first half to eventually trail by 19 points with 5:17 remaining before losing 96-86 to NAIA St. Mary (Kan.) at Ralston Arena.
Hansen said the Mavericks’ failures were widespread.
“I thought we were outcoached, I thought we were outhustled, and I thought we were outplayed to put it as simplistic as I can,” he said.
UNO’s low point came with 8:31 remaining in the second half and the Mavs trailing 73-62. UNO’s Justin Simmons drove toward the baseline, bumped into a defender and was called for traveling.
Simmons responded by punting the basketball off the ceiling of the arena and then fell to the floor in pain. He had to be helped off the court by medical staff and assisted to the locker room with his knee heavily iced.
Hansen said after the game that he was unsure of the extent of Simmons’ injury but that he believed the injury occurred on the run-in with the defender and not the kicked ball.
After building a 36-18 lead in the first half, the Mavs went into the break leading 49-38 and shooting 18 of 31 (58.1 percent). That lead vanished quickly as the Spires opened the second half with a 12-0 run in less than four minutes to take a 51-50 lead.
But John Karhoff and CJ Carter nailed baskets to restore UNO’s lead at 53-50. Karhoff led the Mavs with 18 points while Alex Phillips added 16.
It went south from there as St. Mary scored the next eight points and never trailed again.
“We have to grow as a team,” Hansen said. “Tonight was not an X-and-O issue. It was a maturity issue. It was a leadership issue.
“And all those issues start with me. I obviously did a poor job getting us prepared for tonight after obviously an emotional win Friday night.”
Karhoff said the Mavs need to work on overcoming difficult situations.
“We’re not doing a good job with handling adversity,” Karhoff said. “We need to do a better job of coming together when things go south.
“I think we need to just not get too high and not get too low. We need to be on an even keel through the whole game.”
UNO has a tough road trip this week with games at Texas Tech on Wednesday, Tulane on Friday and Nebraska on Saturday.
“If we think we faced adversity tonight, we’re going to face that times a whole lot more later this week, so we have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time,” Hansen said.
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