UNO’s hope to make a splash in its first Summit League home game never materialized.
The Mavericks missed their first five shots from the field in falling behind South Dakota 7-0, stayed close for about seven minutes, but never fully recovered in a 95-72 loss Saturday before 1,026 at the Ralston Arena.
“The start dictated the whole game,” UNO center John Karhoff said. “It kind of leaves a really bad taste in your mouth that it was the first conference game at home and we came out the way we did. We need to do a better job of getting ourselves up for it. There was no reason not to be up for this game.”
South Dakota (6-8, 2-1 Summit) recorded season-high totals in points, field goals (34) and 3-pointers (11).
The Mavs trailed 52-29 at halftime after South Dakota hit seven 3-pointers while shooting 62.5 percent (20 of 32) from the field.
“I expected our start to be better,” UNO coach Derrin Hansen said. “I expected our energy level to be better. That doesn’t guarantee you baskets, but it should guarantee you fight and I don’t think we had enough of that.”
Karhoff led UNO (3-12, 0-3) with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
UNO got within 62-46 early in the second half, but South Dakota scored the next 13 points and wasn’t threatened again.
“I’m a little shocked,” Hansen said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I thought we were (definitely) going to win, but I thought we were going to really compete and have a chance down the stretch — down five, up five, even.
“But they jumped us and we didn’t respond very well, and that’s the most disappointing part.”
Brandon Bos, a 6-foot-1 sophomore averaging 7.4 points and 1.7 rebounds, had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead South Dakota.
“Offensively it was one of our best performances,” South Dakota coach Dave Boots said. “We shot well and had great ball movement. We got great play off the bench. And defensively we were pretty sharp. Our rotations were good and we rebounded well.”
Freshman Casey Kasperbauer of Carroll, Iowa, hit three first-half 3s to give the Coyotes leads of 16-8, 27-13 and 39-21 and made another 3 in the second half. Eric Robertson hit both of his first-half 3s and finished 4 for 4 from long range after going into the game 1 for 7 for the season.
The Coyotes hit 11 of 21 from behind the arc.
“They hit shots,” UNO guard Alex Phillips said. “Our coaches do a good job of scheming, do a good job on the scouting reports, do a good job on all the behind the scenes stuff. We just didn’t follow it.”
Justin Simmons scored 13 points, all in the second half, and Phillips added 11 for UNO, which plays Missouri-Kansas City at 5 p.m. Monday in another Summit game against an opponent expected to finish in the lower half of the league.
South Dakota, the Mavs’ former North Central Conference rival, has a three-year head start on UNO in Division I and is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time this season. The Coyotes were picked to finish eighth in the Summit, one spot ahead of UNO.
Boots, asked what advice he would give UNO, said that the transition is a long, grueling process and that his program is still a work in progress.
“We still have a lot of work left to do to compete with the top people in the Summit night in and night out,” he said. “You just have to keep recruiting and have a great attitude about it. The mountain you’re climbing, it’s a slow climb.”
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