The UNO women’s basketball team was in no mood to talk about moral victories or program advancement.
Even though Wednesday’s 51-42 loss to St. Louis represented a 16-point improvement from last year’s 81-54 defeat, the Mavericks looked at their 1-for-16 start from the field, their 2-to-1 rebounding deficit, and their inability to get to the free throw line more closely than focusing on how much they’ve narrowed the gap with other Division I teams.
“We knew we could come out and compete with them and we wanted to win this game,” senior forward Paige Frauendorfer said. “We didn’t come out hard enough and play hard enough to do that.”
UNO (3-1) fell behind 13-2 early and trailed 25-10 with 4:22 left in the first half before twice getting within three points in the second half.
“This is a completely different team and we have different expectations,” senior guard Jamie Nash said. “And we didn’t meet them. Last year was last year, and we expected to come out and win this one. As good as they are, we have the team to match them.”
St. Louis got just enough of a boost from 6-foot-2 Mallory Eggert, three big baskets from forward Lorreal Jones and some clutch late-game free throws from Jacy Bradley to hold off the Mavs before 204 at Sapp Fieldhouse.
“That they’re not satisfied and they wanted to win this game,” UNO coach Chance Lindley said, referring specifically to Frauendorfer and Nash. “That means they are that competitive and they want to leave a mark before they graduate.
“But is that a difference from last year? Sure. We showed up way different.”
How? Look no further than the slow start, rebounds and lack of free throw trips (eight).
“I think we contributed to our loss more than what St. Louis did to us,” he said. “Compared to last year when it was all St. Louis.”
Frauendorfer had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Nash had 11 points, five assists and four steals.
“They’re going to have a good year,” St. Louis coach Lisa Stone said. “They have a nice point guard (Nash) — I like her a lot — and Frauendorfer is a really nice player, very good — one of the best — at the two-dribble pull-up. She can just rise up over people.”
Frauendorfer hit two of those two-dribble pull-ups during a second-half UNO run that started after Eggert picked up her third foul. Then Ericka House hit a 3 to get the Mavs within 31-28 and she cut the margin in half again with a 3 that made it 34-31.
“We were attacking more and playing with more confidence,” Frauendorfer said. “But we didn’t keep it up on the defensive end.”
St. Louis (1-3), picked 14th in the 16-team Atlantic 10, won its first game of the season — though its first three games were against Missouri, Missouri-Kansas City (picked second in the Summit League) and No. 13 Oklahoma.
“We did a great job on the glass, did a great job defensively holding a team that scores 70 to 42, and we had fewer than 20 turnovers,” Stone said. “It’s a big moment for our team. We’re making slow progress, but we still have a long way to go.”
St. Louis owned a 46-23 rebounding advantage, a product of UNO’s 30.2-percent shooting, and a 13-5 edge in offensive rebounds. Many of UNO’s early misses were high-quality shots that didn’t go down.
“We got shots that we set out for,” Nash said. “We have to focus a little more on finishing — going through contact. They’re a good team and they’re physical. We have to face that and match it.”
UNO made 38.5 percent from the field in a second half that included solid play from 6-foot-4 sophomore Taijhe Kelly, who blocked five shots in the final 20 minutes.
The Mavs had three possessions in the final 1:30 when they had the ball when trailing by five points, but Nash had two turnovers — once when she slipped on an on-court advertising sign — and had an on-target 3 bounce off the rim. The Billikens made six free throws in the final 25 seconds, four of them by Bradley, to wrap it up.
“Defensively I thought we were pretty solid all night,” Lindley said. “We started rebounding a little bit. … But at the end of the day, it’s awfully tough to win at this level when you only score 42 points.”
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