OMAHA, Neb. — The Omaha men’s basketball team suffered its second straight loss Wednesday night, falling 86-78 to North Dakota State at Baxter Arena. The Mavericks are now 12-12 (5-4) on the season, while the Bison improve to 17-7 (8-2) with their fourth straight win to move into a tie for first in the league standings.
Leaders for Omaha
KJ Robinson led the Mavericks with 20 points with four 3-pointers and a 6-of-7 effort at the free throw line. Marlon Ruffin followed with 17 points off the bench with 6-of-10 shooting, and Matt Pile added 15 points and a team-leading six rebounds.
Leaders for North Dakota State
Vinnie Shahid scored a game-high 24 points while going 8-of-8 at the stripe to pace the Bison, and Tyson Ward had 22 points and nine rebounds. Jared Samuelson hit four threes en route to 16 points, and Rocky Kreuser finished with 10 points and eight boards.
NDSU shot 54.2% (26-of-48) to Omaha’s 45.2% (28-of-62) and hit 11 threes for the night. The Bison also had a 36-25 rebounding advantage.
Omaha committed a season-low six turnovers and outscored NDSU 18-8 off miscues.
Inside the First Half
Omaha went without a turnover in the opening 20 minutes, and the half included six lead changes. Neither team could build to more than a four-point lead, and after a steal and a score by Ruffin at the buzzer, the game sat tied at 36-36 at halftime.
Inside the Second Half
The Bison scored 50 points in the second half – led by 16 from Shahid — and used a 9-2 run to go up 52-42. The Mavericks pulled within three with the help of a 7-0 run on the back of Pile, which made it 57-54 with 11 minutes to play.
NDSU rallied from there with three straight threes from Samuelson, Kreuser and Shahid. The Bison took their largest lead of 11 with less than two minutes left.
Noting Tonight’s Game
-Omaha’s first half without a turnover was its first since doing so against Iowa Wesleyan on Nov. 30, 2013.
–KJ Robinson has had a 20-point scoring performance in four of his last five games and has scored in double figures in seven straight.
-Tonight was just the second time Omaha has dropped consecutive home losses since moving into Baxter Arena in 2015-16. The only other time was when the Mavericks fell to Oral Roberts and North Dakota State to close the 2017-18 campaign.
Omaha hits the road for South Dakota State on Saturday, Feb. 8, with tipoff set for 4:15 p.m. at Frost Arena in Brookings, S.D.