In the final minute, Justin Simmons drove the lane for a potential game-clinching basket.
The South Dakota player guarding Matt Hagerbaumer slid over to help Simmons' beaten defender.
Simmons saw that Hagerbaumer flashed open and quickly passed it to him.
And Hagerbaumer did what Hagerbaumer does.
He caught it and dunked it.
Of his 120 career made field goals, Hagerbaumer was asked, how many had come on something other than a dunk or a layup?
“Probably none,” the 6-foot-7 forward said.
And are about 90 of them dunks?
“Probably more than that,” he said.
Hagerbaumer, a senior from Lincoln Southeast, finds some amusement in being ranked No. 5 in the country in the statistic Offensive Rating, according to the website kenpom.com. Though there are different breakdowns for players who are more involved with their team's possession-by-possession offensive attack, there sits Hagerbaumer with his 137.6 rating near the top of all players.
For comparison, others on the overall list are 3-point sniper Brady Heslip of Baylor (second), as well as a couple of Creighton players — Ethan Wragge is fourth and Jahenns Manigat ranks ninth. Among players who are go-to guys on offense, Creighton's Doug McDermott ranks third at 121.5.
While some players' rating is positively affected by their 3-point accuracy, Hagerbaumer's is bolstered by his 75.5 percent field-goal shooting. That's right: He's made 39 of 51 field goals (not free throws) this season. And he's in a slump — last year he shot 79.6 percent (39 of 49) from the field.
But Hagerbaumer isn't a focal point of the UNO offense. He doesn't hunt shots. He'll pull down an offensive rebound five feet from the basket and look to kick it out to a guard.
“I think Matt understands that the guys around him can create more for us with those extra possessions,” UNO coach Derrin Hansen said. “And that's the sign of a good team player.”
When UNO's array of penetrators start driving, or if slick passer John Karhoff has the ball in the post, that's when Hagerbaumer — still an explosive jumper despite past knee trouble — becomes extremely dangerous.
“I don't need to be in a rhythm on offense,” he said.
Sure, he can shoot it a little bit. He's even 9 for 12 from the free-throw line this year after struggling there his whole career.
“But we've got a lot of guys on our team who are able to shoot jumpers,” Hagerbaumer said. “Even in high school I had good offensive players around me. So I just try to get rebounds and help the team out with putbacks or dropoffs. Our guys are really good at that.”
Another Summit League player, North Dakota State's Marshall Bjorklund, has gained recognition for his field goal accuracy. At 65.5 percent for his career, he's among the most accurate Division I players among those who have met the qualifying standards in the last decade. The NCAA lists Appalachian State's Ricky Nedd (whose career ended in 1994) as the Division I career leader at 69.0 among those who have met the minimum.
That minimum is somewhat arbitrary, not to mention steep — 400 career field goals. It's enough to price a lunch-bucket guy like Hagerbaumer out of the market — his career averages are 2.6 points and 3.8 rebounds.
But his career field goal percentage is a lofty .710 (120 of 169), well ahead of Bjorklund's. Granted, Bjorklund has an array of post moves — he's kind of the Summit's version of Kevin McHale — and is the No. 2 option in the Bison offense.
“I can do that stuff,” Hagerbaumer said, “but in games the flow seems right to ball-screen and get guys open.”
UNO lists its all-time field-goal percentage leader as Tommy Thompson, who shot 57.8 percent (406 of 702) from 1984 through 1988.
While points aren't a priority for Hagerbaumer, defense and rebounding are. Despite playing an average of just 19.7 minutes per game, he is tied for eighth in the Summit in rebounds (5.6 per game) and seventh in blocked shots (1.1). He's second in the league in rebounds per 40 minutes (11.4), trailing only teammate Mike Rostampour (13.5), and is sixth in blocked shots per 40 (2.2).
“I don't do much on offense,” Hagerbaumer said. “Defense is much more important to me. Rim-protect, block shots and get rebounds. Scoring, efficiency, all that stuff, that doesn't matter. Layups and dunks, that's all I do.”
While Hagerbaumer is efficient, so is Hansen. The UNO coach had Hagerbaumer play his senior season as a walk-on. While it wasn't a 1 for 1 trade — the Mavs still have a scholarship open — it also allowed Rostampour to go from walk-on to scholarship player.
“At first, it was like ... 'Really?' ” Hagerbaumer said, recalling the disappointment.
After considering his options, he elected to stay with UNO.
“Maybe I could have gone somewhere else, but you just don't know about credits transferring,” he said. “And I didn't want to sit out a year, so I would have had to go Division II. The more I thought about it, that didn't make sense. So my parents told me they'd get me through and that I'd better have a job waiting for me when I got out — they're trying to get me off their payroll.”
That shouldn't be a problem: Hagerbaumer is adding banking and finance degrees to the marketing major he'd been pursuing.
Hansen said Hagerbaumer didn't let any disappointment linger.
“If he was disappointed, he didn't show it, because he's a team guy,” Hansen said.
Ultimately he's played slightly more than the aggressive Rostampour, who starts but frequently gets in foul trouble. Rostampour, Karhoff and Hagerbaumer have become a quality trio rotating through UNO's two interior positions.
“He's gotten better at everything across the board,” Hansen said. “His physicality has improved. He's really been active defensively. His communication and his screens for his teammates really help us. He's a guy who sees the whole picture.”