The inside-outside combination of Corey Petros and Travis Bader proved to be too much for UNO on Saturday as Oakland ended the Mavs’ three-game winning streak 96-81.
A Ralston Arena crowd of 1,209 saw the 6-foot-10 Petros score 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting, and Bader added 24 to help the Golden Grizzlies crawl out of an early deficit and cruise down the stretch.
Despite the loss, UNO coach Derrin Hansen said the Mavs played well and are a long way removed from the team that started the season 2-10.
“We’ve come a long ways. We’ve battled. We’ve grown as a unit,” Hansen said. “I’m really happy with where our team is right now.
“I’m disappointed today, but we’ll regroup. The kids are resilient.”
The backcourt shined for UNO as Justin Simmons scored 25 points and CJ Carter added 21.
It was the eighth time this season that Simmons has scored more than 20 points.
Simmons had 14 in the first half and Carter scored 13 as UNO went into halftime with a 47-43 advantage.
But Oakland came out in the second half determined get the ball inside to Petros, and UNO was unable to answer.
Greg Kampe, in his 29th season coaching the Grizzlies, said he realized at the half that that strategy was the best chance to get out of Ralston with a win.
“We felt the only way we could win this game was to pound the ball in there,” Kampe said.
Oakland started to pull away when UNO center John Karhoff, who had the unenviable task of guarding Petros, committed his third personal foul 4:28 into the second half with the Mavs trailing 58-57.
“We got lucky because he got into foul trouble,” Kampe said. “We ran some sets that they hadn’t seen since February, and I think they didn’t know what was coming because they hadn’t seen them.”
Karhoff said the physical matchup between him and Petros picked up in intensity in the second half.
“He kind of took it to me there in the second half,” Karhoff said. “That was definitely a physical battle down there.”
Karhoff finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
The Mavericks shot 52.3 percent from the floor. It was the seventh time in the last nine games that UNO (8-17, 5-7 Summit League) managed to hit better than 50 percent.
UNO jumped to a 17-9 lead 4:32 into the game, but Oakland countered by outscoring the Mavs 13-2 over the next 4:26 to grab a 22-19 advantage.
The Mavericks will travel to Western Illinois on Thursday and IUPUI next Saturday, their last road games of the season, before returning home Feb. 19 to host Chicago State in a nonconference matchup.