WICHITA, Kan. — The Omaha men’s basketball team opened its 2019-20 campaign Tuesday night, falling 68-54 to Wichita State at Charles Koch Arena.
Leaders for Omaha
Ayo Akinwole’s all-around effort led the Mavericks, as the junior finished with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
Wichita native Matt Pile’s homecoming came with a six-point, career-high 15-rebound performance, and he added two steals and an assist.
Leaders for Wichita State
Trey Wade and Dexter Dennis combined for 36 of WSU’s 68 points. Wade had a double-double in his debut on 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Dennis narrowly missed another, draining five triples on the way to 17 points alongside nine boards. Grant Sherfield added 12 more points on 6-of-11 shooting with six assists.
The Mavericks held Wichita State to 36.6% shooting on the night while registering a 39.3% clip themselves. WSU had a 44-39 advantage on the glass, including 15-7 on the offensive end. Omaha held a 22-18 edge in the paint. The Shockers knocked down 11 threes.
Inside the First Half
Gibson paced the Mavericks with seven points in the first half, while Pile pulled down nine boards. The Shockers got 13 points and seven rebounds from Wade but shot a dismal 30.6% as a team.
Though WSU went up 24-14 on consecutive threes from Tyson Etienne and Wade, the Mavericks managed to get within four — 29-25 — on a Wanjang Tut jumper with just over three to the break.
The Shockers missed six of their final seven shots of the half, and Omaha trailed 31-25 heading to the locker room.
Inside the Second Half
WSU put together an 8-2 run out of the intermission, capped with back-to-back Dennis threes to make it 39-27. The Mavericks cut the deficit back to 10 at 55-43on jumpers from Thornhill and Akinwole with just under nine to play. They made it a 10-point game one final time on an Akinwole bucket with 7:22 left but would get no closer as the Shockers pulled away with a 7-0 spurt.
Quoting Head Coach Derrin Hansen
“Tonight we had players in new roles and new players playing extensive minutes. I’m very happy with our communication, attention to detail and showing some toughness in a very difficult environment. Wichita State is an established, high-level program, and hopefully our group set the bar on what it takes to be successful against an opponent of that caliber.”
Noting Tonight’s Game
-Wichita State now leads the all-time series with Omaha 3-0.
-Tonight’s game marked the Mavericks’ first visit to Wichita in 25 years.
–Zach Thornhill and Wanjang Tut made their first career starts.
–JT Gibson moved up to sixth on Omaha’s career 3-pointers list, passing Jeff Martin’s 169 (2008-11). Gibson now has 170 to his credit.
Omaha makes its home debut on Thursday, Nov. 7, welcoming Midland to Baxter Arena at Noon. Gary Sharp and Kyler Erickson will have the radio call on 1180 Zone 2, and links to live video, audio and stats will be available on OMavs.com.