VERMILLION, S.D. — The Omaha men’s basketball team put up a staunch road effort Saturday night but came up short, falling 97-93 to South Dakota at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
Leaders for Omaha
La’Mel Robinson had a breakout performance, scoring a career-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting with a trio of threes.
Marlon Ruffin followed with 19 points on an 8-of-12 night alongside seven rebounds and a pair of assists.
Matt Pile tallied his second double-double of the year on 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, hitting 7-of-11 from the field. And Nick Ferrarini had a career night of his own, finishing 5-of-7 from the floor – including 3-of-4 from deep — en route to 15 points in 16 minutes of work.
Ayo Akinwole added nine points with a team-leading five assists.
Leaders for South Dakota
AJ Plitzuweit had a game-high 37 points on 14-of-23 shooting with five 3-pointers. Stanley Umude was 10-of-15 for 24 points alongside eight boards, five assists and two blocks.
Xavier Fuller also finished in double figures with 15 points, as did Kruz Perrott-Hunt with 10.
Omaha put together a solid shooting night at a season-best 57% (36-of-63), finishing 10-of-17 from beyond the arc and 11-of-13 from the free throw line.
South Dakota shot 61% (37-of-61) from the field with 12 triples.
The Mavericks outrebounded USD 32-30.
Inside the First Half
After finding themselves down 12 in the first nine minutes, Omaha reeled off a 25-9 flurry to finish the first half, including an 11-1 stretch to put them in front 35-34.
Robinson dug in his heels late, scoring nine of his 11 first-half points in the final seven minutes. Pile had 10 points and seven boards of his own in the first half.
Ruffin, who scored eight in the first half, hit a three with 44 seconds to go that spotted Omaha an eight-point advantage. The Mavericks led 45-40 at the break.
Inside the Second Half
After a back-and-forth start to the second half, USD surged ahead on the back of a 12-0 run and took an 82-69 lead with 6:21 to play.
But Ferrarini ignited in the final four minutes, scoring 13 points with the help of three 3-pointers. A Robinson pull-up three made it 90-85 with 90 seconds to go, and Ferrarini immediately canned another to make a two-point game. But two late opportunities to tie it came up short, and USD hung on for the 97-93 final.
Noting Tonight’s Game
–La’Mel Robinson has scored in double figures in four of the last five games.
-Tonight marked Omaha’s season best for threes made as a team.
-Omaha is now 2-14 (0-6 Summit League) on the season. The Coyotes’ ninth straight win keeps them unbeaten in league play at 10-6 (8-0).
Omaha returns home next weekend, welcoming Western Illinois to Baxter Arena for two games, Feb. 6-7. Tipoff both nights is set for 8 p.m.