Since the last time I went to a UNO Women’s Basketball game and wrote an article on this team, things have gone very south for the Mavs. After beating Cal State Bakersfield in overtime 87-79, Omaha’s record has been 2-11 and have lost nine in a row. Their two wins were to NAIA Peru State, a game which they struggled for three quarters before getting it together in the fourth quarter winning 92-70. The other win was at Texas Southern in a 68-63 victory.
Ever since the calendar went from November to December, the defense has been a major problem for Omaha. Omaha Women’s Basketball gave up 95 points against University of Illinois-Chicago, 78 points against former Summit League foe Western Illinois, 96 points against a ranked TCU team, 81 against Denver, 77 in an overtime loss to South Dakota, 96 against Eastern Washington, 81 against Montana, 100 against North Dakota, 87 against North Dakota State, 92 against South Dakota State, and 88 against Kansas City. One of the reasons for this defensive issue is the Mavs are letting the other team get so wide open for three and can not stop the other team. Four if not five of these losses looked like very winnable games for Omaha before the games tipped off. I had decent expectations from this team going into the season after the Mavs made it to the Summit League Championship Game last season before getting blown out against South Dakota State. I had Omaha finishing either third or fourth in the Summit League preseason. The Omaha Mavericks in women’s sports since May 2022 have been on the rise by making it to a conference championship game (7 in a row which includes Softball, Volleyball, Women’s Soccer in addition to Women’s Basketball). This streak will most likely end in March 2024 as a result of this women’s basketball team. I am sure Omaha Women’s Basketball Head Coach Carrie Banks is not very happy with the defense Omaha is producing.
During the 2020-2021 and 2022-2023 seasons, Omaha has relied on their defense to win games and pull off huge upsets to make it to the Summit League Championship Game. This included a huge upset as an 8 seed back in 2021 against a top 25 South Dakota State team which only scored 40 points where history was made as Omaha was the first 8 seed to knock off a 1 seed. Then they defeated Western Illinois in the semifinals only to lose to South Dakota in the championship game. In 2023 Omaha was a 6 seed and upset North Dakota by fending off a late last minute comeback and won against Kansas City in the semifinals then lost to South Dakota State. Part of the problem is Omaha lost Akili Felici to the transfer portal, Elena Pilakouta graduated from UNO and ran out of eligibility. These two especially Elena who was 6 ft 3 and a very good defensive player and rebounder.
Omaha may be on a nine game losing streak but is shooting very well from the free throw line. This is helping Omaha stay in some games and keeping some positives if getting blown out. Omaha is currently a top 20 team in making free throws. Some decent players too offensively are happening such as junior Grace Cave, graduate student Aaliyah Stanley, and freshman Cora Olsen have made their marks. If these players can play defense in addition to offense, this team would be totally different and meet the expectations from what I was hoping for preseason. Omaha has two games at home this weekend with Oral Roberts coming to Omaha on Thursday night and Denver coming to Omaha on Saturday.