Late Thursday night, UNO was looking for the knockout punch against a pesky Western Illinois team that just wouldn’t go away.
With just less than two minutes to go and the Mavericks up by three points, coach Chance Lindley called a set play for an Ericka House 3-pointer.
House doubled the lead, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha wasn’t seriously challenged again while holding on to win.
“It’s great to have a play called,” Lindley said, “but if a kid doesn’t finish the shot, it doesn’t matter what play you have called.”
House is usually a pretty dependable option.
The 5-foot-9 junior college transfer from Hot Springs, Ark., is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.3 points per game as the Mavs head into a big Summit League home game against IUPUI, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Sapp Fieldhouse.
She’s second in the Summit League with an average of 2.1 made 3-pointers per game and shoots 35 percent (49 of 140) from long distance. She’s tied for the eighth-most 3s in a single season in school history, and is on pace to finish in the top five.
Her 3-point accuracy has been even better in league games at 39.7 percent (23 of 58).
“If I could choose, I would take a 3-point shot over a layup any day,” House said. “I love to shoot.”
House came to UNO with her reputation as a 3-point shooter well-established.
She made a junior college national record 13 3s (on 22 attempts) while scoring 41 points as a freshman at Tyler (Texas) Junior College. She made at least two 3s in 26 of her 33 games for Tyler as a sophomore.
But once she chose to come to UNO, she found she needed to add another element to her game.
The Mavs play an unusual matchup zone defense that often relies on perimeter defenders covering large amounts of territory.
“You have to learn the defense first. Otherwise you won’t play,” House said. “It took until about the middle of the season to know where I was going and what I was doing. I’m used to playing man-to-man. But it’s coming along.”
Along with her improved defense, Lindley said, House is also making strides in other areas of her game.
He’d like to see her earn more trips to the foul line — she shot three free throws Thursday after earning four trips in the first 22 games of the season.
House had her UNO career high of 21 points Dec. 28 when she made seven 3s, one short of the school’s single-game record, in the Mavs’ Summit League debut victory against Missouri-Kansas City.
House typically provides instant offense while coming off the bench, though she averages nearly 25 minutes per game.
“If I play good defense,” she said, “(Lindley) says I can shoot all I want.”
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