The Omaha men’s basketball team dropped its final test before conference play begins later this week, falling 69-66 to Chicago State at Jones Convocation Center on Monday night. The Mavericks are now 6-6 (0-0 Summit League) on the season, while the Cougars improved to 4-11 (0-0 WAC).
Junior guard Marcus Tyus led UNO with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting with a career-best four 3-pointers. He added six rebounds and two assists and two steals for the night.
Senior guard CJ Carter added 15 points, one assist and one steal, finishing 6-of-11 from the field with a pair of threes. Junior forward Randy Reed II rounded out the Mavericks’ double-figure scorers with 11 points, also pulling down four boards with three assists and a steal.
Freshman forward Tre’Shawn Thurman led the way on the glass, cleaning up with a game-high and career-best 12 rebounds. Senior forward Mike Rostampour added eight points and eight rebounds as well.
As a team, Omaha shot 19-of-53 (.358) from the field, 8-of-26 (.308) from long range and 20-of-38 (.526) at the free throw line. Chicago State finished 22-of-49 (.449) from the floor, 8-of-16 behind the arc and 17-of-22 (.773) at the line. The Mavericks outrebounded the Cougars, 42-31, and forced 18 miscues that resulted in 24 points off turnovers.
Chicago State was led by 12 points apiece from Clarke Rosenberg and Montana Byrd, while Rahjan Muhammad added another 11.
Omaha took a 7-5 lead to start the game, but CSU came back just as quickly, going ahead 10-8. Carter drew two early fouls, which took him out just four minutes in, and he would not reenter the game until the 2:07 mark before halftime. Meanwhile, the Mavericks worked ahead by five on a Tim Smallwood triple from the corner – Omaha’s first of the game – but the Cougars whittled away at the lead as three Rosenberg free throws put them up 17-16.
A Reed trey spotted UNO the lead again at 19-17, but Chicago State surged from there. The Cougars went on a 20-5 run to finish the half, with a combined five 3-pointers from Byrd and Anthony Glover over the last four minutes that made it 36-23. Carter had the last word before the break, as his layup cut it to 36-25.
Carter came out firing to start the second half, scoring eight points for UNO with a pair of 3-pointers in the first three minutes. Tyus then rattled off 14 straight points, including a trio of consecutive threes that shot UNO ahead 47-41.
The Mavericks took their largest lead of the game at 57-47 with 8:57 left, as junior guard Kyler Erickson swiped the ball from Chicago State and fed it to Carter for a layup. The lead quickly faded as Chicago State rallied with a 17-4 run, tying it at 61-61 with a Griffin 3-pointer. CSU stretched it to 68-62 with 0:49 left before the Mavericks made one final push, using free throws by Tyus and Reed and a Thurman layup to shear it to 68-66 with 0:35 to go. A Maverick turnover with 15 seconds remaining put it back in CSU’s control, however, and Rosenberg’s final free throw finished the game at 69-66.
Omaha returns to action on Friday, Jan. 2, opening Summit League play at South Dakota. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D