Omaha flipped the script Friday night and the University of South Dakota Coyotes ended up in the role of supporting actors in a Summit League men's basketball season opener at the DakotaDome.
With things going well, a nice lead in hand, and the defense doing its due diligence, the Coyotes held a consistent double-digit lead during the tail end of the first half and the opening scenes after halftime.
Then the adventure turned into a horror show as Omaha erupted for 57 second half points and clamped down on the USD shooters late to pull away for a stunning 86-77 win.
USD (6-9, 0-1) saw its second three-game winning streak snapped and dropped a pivotal conference home game with five of their next six Summit contests set for the road.
The Coyotes play at Denver Sunday with play set for a 2 p.m. tip.
“That was interesting,” USD head coach Craig Smith said. “We thought at halftime we controlled the pace and tempo and really got it going late in the second half to make a good run. It felt like we should have been up 18 or 20 at half. In the second half we had really good looks we missed and we settled for jumpers as well. We settled in.
“I made some mistakes. We should have played more 2-2-1, 2-3 zone to slow them down because they felt like a wave going downhill. We looked comfortable when we were up 12 and that’s not what you want. We were happy exchanging baskets instead of putting the screws to somebody. Let’s finish them off…we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Coyotes were led by the 17-point efforts of Brandon Bos and Tyler Larson and 11 points from Casey Kasperbauer.
Omaha (7-6, 1-0) wrapped the game with 47 points over the last 15 minutes and finished the second half at a 61 percent shooting clip.
CJ Carter led the victorious Mavericks with 24 points.
“They hit some tough shots for sure but we can’t give up 57 points in a half, that’s on us,” Bos said. “I give them credit for some of the shots they made, but we can’t let teams go on runs like that and expect to win games.
“I thought we did a good job in the first half holding them to 29 points. But giving up 57 points on our home court…”
Down a dozen at halftime the Mavericks came out trying to push the pace as their athleticism is want to do.
The problem was they were unable to finish consistently enough or at junctures where easy shots should have been made and the deficit didn't see a dip for the first five minutes of the second half.
Combine that with the Coyotes not being bashful about running with the Mavs and the Coyotes led 49-39 at the first television timeout,
“We always want to be on the attack and that was something we were definitely doing at the start of the second half,” Bos said. “We starting taking tough shots and rushing threes inside of trying to go inside. We weren’t able to get the ball moving and get flowing. We got stagnant and they worked in their favor.
“Their confidence rose with that.”
Omaha did get things tighter around the collar with a 10-6 run that pulled the within six just north of the 11-minute mark.
Then a CJ Carter trey pulled the Mavericks to within 55-52 moments later.
He repeated the feat on Omaha's next possession and the game was back to ground zero tied at 55-all with 10:20 left to play.
Just 90 seconds later another bomb, this type from the hand of Kyler Erickson put the Mavs up 60-59 with 8:56 left in regulation.
The seesaw affair continued and the Mavs held serve to the tune of another Erickson USD mojo buster with seven minutes left and a 67-64 Omaha edge.
“It looks like we were shocked at some of the shots they were hitting and we didn’t do a good job reacting,” Bos said. “We should have been grinding them down and using the clock.”
The Mavs held a five-point cushion but the Coyotes would not relent and a Tyler Larson offensive putback, hoop, and harm at 4:40 to play to take the lead back at 71-70.
But that was where the hope would end.
Omaha got stiffer defensively and attacked the rim without fear and slowly pulled away.
One thing that aided the Mavericks’ rally was an impatient Coyote offense that didn’t force Omaha to grind on defense thus giving them their run-and-gun legs more opportunity to fuel up.
“I feel we just comfortable times and I don’t know why,” Smith said. “In hindsight I wish I would put in a couple of others guys. Guys who are hungry to compete and keep guys fresh mentally. I should have changed it up.”
The Coyotes came out from the opening half with solid play taking a touchdown lead, 7-0, behind a mix of inside-out offense and a zone defense that didn't allow the Mavs a basket until almost four minutes had expired.
Things slowed down, the Mavs sped up and with just over eight minutes a Tim Smallwood triple gave the guests their first lead at 19-18.
The teams battled back and forth until two Casey Kasperbauer treys on consecutive possessions gave USD a 26-23 lead with 5:28 left in the first half.
He drilled another bomb after a Brandon Bos 3-ball and suddenly the Coyotes found themselves back up seven, 32-25 at the 4:09 mark.
The Coyotes took an eventual 41-29 lead into the intermission behind 48 percent shooting and a defensive effort that held the Mavs to 36 percent from the field.
“I don’t really know what happened it’s something we have to clean up,” Larson said. “When another team gets hot…we got to be able to grind it down and get a bucket.”