DEKALB, Ill. — CJ Carter’s three-point play with 14 seconds left gave UNO one of its few leads of the night, and the Mavericks held on for a season-opening 68-66 victory Friday night at Northern Illinois.
Carter, a junior from Omaha Benson, scored a game-high 18 points for UNO, which overcame an 11-point halftime deficit. Carter added six rebounds and four assists, as well as one steal and one block.
Carter’s three-point play — he was 9 for 11 at the free-throw line — gave the Mavs a 67-65 lead. With eight seconds to go, Northern Illinois’ Travon Baker hit his second of two free throws to cut the Huskies’ deficit to one. A final foul shot from UNO senior guard Caleb Steffensmeier sealed the win.
UNO’s ability to make free throws was a key factor. UNO converted 27 of 32 (84.4 percent) from the line, while the Huskies made 15 of 28 (53.6 pecent).
UNO sophomore guard Marcus Tyus added nine points, three assists and two steals. Senior forward Matt Hagerbaumer had six points and a game-high seven rebounds, and senior Alex Phillips chipped in seven points and four rebounds.
UNO prevailed despite getting a combined 25 minutes (as well as 13 points and eight rebounds) from starting front-liners John Karhoff and Mike Rostampour, both of whom fouled out. Returning scoring leader Justin Simmons scored six points, missing all nine of his field-goal attempts.
“Our kids never quit and fought until the end,” UNO coach Derrin Hansen said. “We played a complete 40 minutes tonight, and this win over Northern Illinois was a total team effort.
“CJ Carter was clutch down the stretch for us. He got the ball to the basket and got it done at the free-throw line.”
Darrell Bowie led Northern Illinois with 16 points, while Daveon Balls added 13.
The Mavs play at Iowa at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.