A strong second half helped UNO pull away from Oakland and pull into sole possession of third place in the Summit League.
Seniors Carolyn Blair-Mobley, Jamie Nash and Paige Frauendorfer combined for all but nine of the Mavericks' points — as well as 26 rebounds, 13 of the team's 14 assists and 10 of its 11 steals — in a 59-41 victory Thursday night before 262 at Sapp Fieldhouse.
“We just come out with a different mindset after halftime,” Blair-Mobley said. “We don't do it on purpose, but we just come out stronger and with more energy.”
UNO, the second-year Division I program that is 10-3 overall and a surprising 2-1 in its first season in the Summit, didn't have the kind of first-half struggle that contributed mightily to its two home losses earlier this season. Instead, the Mavs and Oakland locked into a tight defensive contest.
But after Victoria Lipscomb's 3 with four seconds left in the first half gave Oakland a 25-24 lead at the break, UNO simply took control in the second half and outscored the Golden Grizzlies 35-16.
“We won because we stayed very consistent defensively and had a decent offensive night,” UNO coach Chance Lindley said.
UNO, taking advantage of mismatches against the undersized Golden Grizzles, shot 46.9 percent from the field in the second half while holding Oakland to 23.8 percent. Oakland scored just 10 points in the final 15:34 of the game.
The Mavs were plus-16 in rebounds (44-28), their best margin of the season against a Division I opponent.
And now, despite humble pre-season expectations, the Mavs find themselves as an early contender in the Summit. South Dakota State and South Dakota are tied for first at 2-0 while three teams — including Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, which comes to the fieldhouse on Saturday — are at 1-1.
“We're playing loose,” Lindley said. “It's not a big secret where we were picked (last), and that's OK. I think it was a fair prediction. It could still turn out that way. But we come out realizing we truly have nothing to lose.”
Blair-Mobley scored 12 of her 19 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer that started a 15-2 run that took the lead from 32-31 to 47-33.
Frauendorfer overcame an off-target shooting night from the perimeter with several strong drives and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Blair-Mobley added eight rebounds.
The 5-foot-4 Nash, who scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half, stuffed the stat sheet with seven rebounds, nine assists, five steals and plenty of floor burns. Nash moved into second in school history in assists with 468. She now needs seven assists and 12 steals to become UNO's all-time leader in both categories.
“She had a really good game,” Lindley said of Nash. “She shot the ball well, but I thought she really led this team for 40 minutes.”
The 5-10 Blair-Mobley made 8 of 12 from the field, including 6 of 7 on two-point attempts.
“They were an undersized team, and I think Coach saw the mismatches and we tailored things to that,” Blair-Mobley said. “I was able to post a little more and Paige (6-foot) was able to elevate over the shorter girls.”
Oakland (7-8, 1-2), the preseason choice to finish third in the Summit, continues to play without injured preseason conference player of the year Bethany Watterworth, a 5-11 forward.
Freshman forward Olivia Nash, leading the Golden Grizzlies in scoring and rebounding, returned to the lineup after missing six games because of injury and had nine points. Freshman Elena Popkey, a 5-5 guard, led Oakland with 11 points and nine rebounds.
“We tried hard to exploit a few mismatches, but our girls share the ball really well,” Lindley said. “We called some set plays for certain girls, but a lot of times we called one for Paige or Carolyn and they weren't the ones who ended up shooting it — they'd get double-teamed and they'd pass to a person who was more open.”
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