OMAHA, Neb. – South Dakota State led for over 30 minutes and survived a wild finish to secure its first conference road win, taking down Omaha 88-84 on Saturday night.
"I was really proud,” SDSU coach T.J. Otzelberger said about the win. “I thought our guys showed a lot of guts today. We talked about how the rebounding battle was going to be critical; we knew we were going to play a little bit of a bigger lineup with A.J. (Hess) being out, so we won that rebounding battle 38-23 and I'm really excited for the guys and how they stepped up tonight."
Ian Theisen started the game for SDSU.
Playing in front of 3,038 fans with a strong contingent of Jackrabbit followers at Baxter Arena, SDSU (10-14, 3-6) moved into a three-way tie for seventh in the Summit League in a win that saw the team shoot 50 percent from the field. SDSU sank 11 3-pointers and hit 15-of-17 at the free throw line.
Omaha (11-11, 4-5) finished 45.8 percent from the field with eight 3-pointers and a 22-of-26 effort at the charity stripe.
Mike Daum led all scorers with 33 points, just missing a double-double as the Jackrabbit big man snagged nine rebounds as well.
Chris Howell (16 points), Reed Tellinghuisen (13) and Lane Severyn (11) joined Daum in double figures as Howell and Severyn recorded career highs. Severyn added seven boards, Howell had six boards and five assists (tied with Michael Orris for the team-lead), and Tellinghuisen had five rebounds.
"I thought Chris gave us tremendous energy tonight getting to the basket and with six rebounds,” Otzelberger added. “He really made some great plays. Lane knocked down some big 3s and with seven rebounds we again talked about how that was a big deal. Obviously, they contributed big with 16 and 11 points but the rebounds are what I was really happy with."
Even through the first two minutes of play, SDSU fell behind 15-8 over the next three minutes as Omaha went on a 9-2 run that ended with five consecutive points before Howell sunk a pair of free throws at 15:36.
From there, SDSU outscored the Mavericks 21-6 over the next 8 minutes with spurts of eight, six and five unanswered. Leading 29-21 at that point (7:35), SDSU saw the Mavs call a timeout and look to climb back with a Tre'Shawn Thurman jumper out of the reset. SDSU, though, continued to push and soon led by 13 (38-25) behind a 3-pointer from Severyn at 4:30.
Ahead 41-27 inside 3 minutes to go after an old-fashioned 3-point play from Tellinghuisen, SDSU had its lead cut to single digits before the half and carried a 52-43 lead into the locker room.
Omaha went on a 13-4 run to draw even in the first 3-plus minutes of the second half forcing an SDSU timeout at 16:41 with the teams knotted at 56-all. SDSU opened up a seven-point lead (63-56) as Omaha was held scoreless over the next 3 minutes, and soon led by 10 (68-58) after an Theisen 3-pointer forced an Omaha timeout at 11:23 to play.
Ahead 72-60 with 10 minutes to play, SDSU found itself in the midst of a 16-4 run that helped the Jacks open a double digit lead after Omaha's early blitz, only to see the Mavericks answer back over the next 5 minutes to close the gap to six (80-74) with 4:44 on the clock.
SDSU stalled Omaha's rally briefly with a 3-pointer from Tellinghuisen, but Omaha climbed within two (83-81) with two minutes to play after a 7-0 run for the Mavs that included five free throws, two of which came following an SDSU technical foul.
Set up for a wild finish, Tellinghuisen drew a charge on the defensive end with 1:20 play and Daum hit a contested layup to move SDSU's lead to two possessions (85-81) near the 1-minute mark, before Omaha drew back within three (85-82) with 49.9 on the clock.
Fouled with 21.6 seconds on the clock, Daum sank 1-of-2 free throws to move SDSU's lead back to four before Tra-Deon Hollins answered with a pair from the charity stripe with 13.6 to play.
Howell's front end of a 1-and-1 with 10.1 to go touched nothing but net, and the Jackrabbit guard made the second to give SDSU an 88-84 lead.
Omaha missed a 3-pointer on the other end with 5 seconds remaining, and Howell corralled the rebound to seal the win.
SDSU plays host to Western Illinois on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Notes: Theisen made his fifth start of the season. … Daum reached the 20-point mark in the first half for the first time in his career. He has scored 20 or more in a half four different times in his career, however. … Daum moved into 34th place on SDSU's all-time scoring list with 1,082 career points. He passed George Schroeder (1,066), Gene Zulk (1,073) and Sid Bosctic (1,079) in tonight's game.