OMAHA, Neb. – Ar'Mond Davis made a three-point basket to open the game for UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday night, but then hot-shooting Nebraska-Omaha took over and rolled to a 85-74 win at Baxter Arena.
After Davis made the first of his five three-pointers, the Gauchos (8-3) missed 16 of their next 19 shots before settling in, and the Mavericks (5-7) took full advantage, making 7-of-9 first half three-point attempts of their own and jumping out to a 48-35 lead by halftime.
UNO's final three in the initial 20 minutes came when Ayo Akinwole nailed one at the buzzer after UCSB had turned the ball over on its offensive end with just two seconds to play.
The Mavericks didn't let up at the start of the second half, scoring the first six points to extend their run to 12-0 and take a commanding 54-35 lead. Santa Barbara tried to scratch back into the game in the second half, closing to within 12 on a couple of occasions before Omaha pushed to 20 at one point. A breakaway slam dunk by Christian Terrell as the final seconds ticked off to end the game narrowed the gap to 11.
Zach Jackson had a team-high 22 points for UNO. Matt Pile had 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots a a steal. He was effective inside in his 28 minutes of work.
"That is a very good, veteran team," said UCSB head coach Joe Pasternack. "Pile was really good and strong. He's very physical and we debated whether to play him straight up or to trap him. We decided to play him straight up and that might have been a mistake."
UCSB started the game going 4-for-20 from the field but went 21-of-41 the rest of the way, 51.2%, to finish at 41.0% for the game. UNO shot a blistering 55.0% for teh game and made 10-of-19 three-point attempts, 52.6%.
The Gauchos will play their final pre-Christmas game on Saturday, Dec. 22 when they host Idaho State at the Thunderdome in a game that till tip-off at 2:00 p.m. It is Youth Basketball Day and all youth basketball players in uniform will be admitted free. The offer includes all players from the Page Youth Center, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and any other sanctioned youth league.