VERMILLION, S.D. — The UNO men earned an impressive road win Thursday night, venturing into the DakotaDome and emerging with a 95-90 victory over a South Dakota team that had thumped the Mavericks by 23 points at the Ralston Arena just 3 1 ⁄2 weeks earlier.
“We played better than we did last time against them,” UNO coach Derrin Hansen said with a laugh, before turning serious. “We really, really battled. We made shots. We kept them at bay. When they made their run, we kept our composure. We rebounded well late. … It was a great team win.”
UNO built a 75-60 lead with 9:16 left, but Juevol Myles and Casey Kasperbauer each hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 20-6 Coyote burst over the next five minutes that trimmed the Mav lead to 81-80.
But UNO never fell behind, getting a jumper by Justin Simmons, a 3 by Caleb Steffensmeier and a basket from John Karhoff to build an 88-82 lead.
South Dakota closed within 90-88 on Steve Tecker’s tip-in with 37 seconds left, but CJ Carter hit two free throws and Steffensmeier hit 1 of 2 after a Myles layup to put UNO’s lead at 93-90.
Myles missed a 3 and Carter hit two more free throws for the final points.
“We never panicked,” Hansen said. “Six or seven weeks ago we might have lost our composure. Tonight we might have had one bad turnover and maybe gave up one open look, but we controlled ourselves and made good decisions.
“We haven’t had many close games like that, and our guys did a great job.”
UNO (6-16 overall) improved to 3-6 for seventh place in the Summit League with its first-ever Summit road victory.
“We were the aggressor this time,” Hansen said, comparing the game to South Dakota’s 95-72 win on Dec. 29. “The first time we played we were very lethargic, didn’t play with much purpose and maybe didn’t have as much confidence as this time.”
Simmons scored 26 points, while Carter and Alex Welhouse each scored 17. It was a season-high for Welhouse, a senior who also pulled down nine rebounds.
Simmons hit 5 of 10 from 3-point range and Welhouse connected on 4 of 7 from long distance as the Mavs hit a season-high 13 3-pointers while shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Steffensmeier scored a season-high 14 while connecting on 3 of 4 from 3. Karhoff scored 14 while making 7 of 8 from the field. UNO shot 56.3 percent overall.
South Dakota (8-13, 4-5) recently had secured impressive wins over league powers South Dakota State and Oakland.
Myles led the Coyotes with 26 points. Brandon Bos had 16 points and eight rebounds. Tecker had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Trevor Gruis added 13 points and nine boards.
UNO came out firing, taking a 17-9 lead with the help of three 3s between Simmons and Welhouse and three fast-break layups by Carter.
“We made some 3s early, and that doesn’t hurt,” Hansen said.
The Coyotes pulled within 30-29, but Welhouse countered with a long 3. South Dakota took its first lead, 39-38, on a jumper by Eric Robertson with 1:34 left in the half. South Dakota also led 41-40, but Welhouse’s 3 put UNO back in front 43-41 at halftime.
UNO plays another Summit League game Saturday at Missouri-Kansas City. The Mavs bounced back from their big loss to South Dakota last month by beating UMKC 77-65 two days later.
“Now we’re going to test our maturity to see if we can put this one aside, go down there and play again quickly,” Hansen said. “We’ve really made strides. I’m proud of this group.”