University of Nebraska at Omaha men’s basketball coach Derrin Hansen said one thing he has learned after his team’s first season playing a full Summit League schedule is how much physicality is required to compete in the top half of the league.
The Mavs’ weakness in that area may have never been more glaring than during their season-ending 84-57 loss to North Dakota State in front of 1,426 at Ralston Arena.
Following the Mavs’ three-game win streak, the schedule to end the season was not kind to them.
After Thursday’s 100-82 home loss to first-place South Dakota State, the Mavs’ season finale saw the Bison (22-8, 12-4) clinch the No. 3 seed in the Summit League tournament next week in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Hansen said he told his players after the game not to reflect on the final two games.
“I don’t want these last 80 minutes to define our season,” Hansen said, “because we’ve had a wonderful season and done a lot of things first-year teams haven’t been able to do with winning games on the road and six conference wins.”
The Mavs (11-20, 6-10) were unable to contain the inside duo of 6-foot-8 Marshall Bjorklund and 6-foot-7 Taylor Braun, who was playing in just his second game back after missing 10 games with a fractured foot.
Braun, NDSU’s leading scorer, had 22 points while going over 1,000 points for his career, and Bjorklund sank 8 of 9 shots for 18 points.
North Dakota State led wire to wire, opening an 11-2 advantage 4:30 into the game.
UNO trimmed the lead to seven twice in the first half, but that was as close as the Mavericks would get. The Bison built a 46-26 halftime lead and cruised from there.
Hansen said he tried to give the Bison some different looks to get his team back into the game.
“We tried just to stir the pot a little bit with some different combinations just to get something going,” Hansen said. “It’s worked for us some this year.
“It did not work today, but things like that don’t work against good basketball teams. It really got away from us.”
Marcus Tyus led the Mavs with 10 points, and Justin Simmons added nine.
UNO shot just 33.3 percent (21 of 63) from the floor while North Dakota State hit 30 of 52 (57.7 percent) and outscored the Mavericks 40-22 in the paint while holding a 42-25 advantage on the glass.
With UNO ineligible for the Summit League and NCAA tournaments due to reclassifying as a Division I program, seniors Alex Welhouse, Jacques Coleman and Tyler Egli likely participated in their last organized basketball game.
But Welhouse isn’t ready to hang his shoes up just yet.
“Men’s league in the YMCA,” he said.
Egli said he expects reality to set in Monday morning.
“No weights or practice or anything,” Egli said. “You just go to class and become a normal student.”
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