INDIANAPOLIS — UNO's chances of staying in the hunt for a championship took a major hit Wednesday night.
Tomakematters worse for the Mavericks, most of their breakdowns in an 88-76 loss to IUPUI were self-inflicted.
"Our shots didn't fall early, and we kind of let that affect us at the defensive end,'' UNO guard Tra-DeonHollins said. "Good teams don't let that that happen to them.''
The defensive letdown was just part of the problem that contributed to the loss at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum that dropped the University of Nebraska at Omaha a full game behind Summit League leaders South Dakota State and Fort Wayne with two games left. The Mavs will slip to 1 1/2 games out of first when the co-leaders meet Thursday night at Fort Wayne.
"We just didn't come out to compete,'' UNO forward Jake White said. "We also didn't follow the scouting report. Going into this next game, we really have to lock in and come out from the jump.''
Toss in being dominated on the boards by an IUPUI team that relied on a seven-man rotation, and UNO coach Derrin Hansen called it a perfect recipe for disaster.
"We just put ourselves in a hole tonight,'' he said, "and we couldn't dig ourselves out of it.''
The Mavericks almost did, trimming a 17-point deficit to six with 8:25 to play. They appeared poised to pick up their sixth victory of the season in which they rallied from a double-digit deficit.
"We turned it on a little too late,'' Hollins said. "Basketball is a game of runs, and we just couldn't stop them when they went on their last one.''
IUPUI turned the game with a 10-0 spurt that featured a pair of baskets after offensive rebounds. The Jaguars turned 10 offensive rebounds into a 15-5 advantage in second-chance points.
"I didn't like our competitive level tonight,'' Hansen said. "I didn't like how we didn't follow the scout tonight, and I didn't like how we didn't keep them off the boards.
"If we rebound those shots during their run, we would have had a chance to make it a one-possession game. That would have put us right where we wanted to be.''
Instead, the Jaguars shot back ahead by 16 points. They went on to snap a three-game losing skid by making 7 of 10 free throws in the final two minutes.
Six players in the Jaguars' seven-man rotation finished with 10 points or more. Freshman T.J. Henderson led the way with 16 points, and IUPUI got 15 points each from Mason Archie and Marcellus Barksdale.
The Jaguars shot 55.6 percent from the field and finished with a 43-27 advantage on the boards.
"Our guys did a good job of looking for each other and making the exta pass, so we got really good shots,'' IUPUI coach Jason Gardner said. "I liked the way we moved the ball and tried to find the open man.
"When we play like that, we can be dangerous offensively.''
White led UNO with 21 points, his 11th game this season with at least 20. Hollins and Tre'Shawn Thurman each added 12 points, although Thurman missed 16minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
Now 17-11 overall, UNO needs to clean things up in a hurry before Saturday's game at Fort Wayne.
"One of the things we need to do from here on out is to control our energy,'' Hansen said. "We can't rely on making baskets to energize us at the other end.
"We have to be tough enough and disciplined enough to do that. We have been, but tonight we weren't.''