OMAHA, Neb. – The Omaha men’s basketball team rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to pick up its 10th victory of the season on Tuesday night, defeating Chicago State, 79-75, at Ralston Arena. With the win, the Mavericks improved to 10-18 (6-8 Summit League), while the Cougars dropped to 8-18 (2-3 Great West).
Junior guard Justin Simmons recorded his ninth 20-plus point performance of the year, leading all scorers with 26 points. The Milwaukee, Wis., native hit a trio of 3-pointers and was 11-of-13 from the line while adding six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
Sophomore guard CJ Carter celebrated his 20th birthday in style, recording 15 points with four assists, two steals and a board. Junior guard Caleb Steffensmeier also finished in double figures, scoring a season-high-tying 14 points with three 3-pointers -- all in the second half -- along with three helpers and a pair of steals.
Junior guard Alex Phillips chipped in eight points and six rebounds, while junior center John Karhoff had seven points and four boards. Senior forward Alex Welhouse added five points and five rebounds for the night.
Chicago State was led by a double-double from Aaron Williams, who had a 12-point, 10-rebound effort. Three other Cougars joined him in double figures: Quinton Pippen (17 points), Matt Ross (15) and Duhon (15).
As a team, CSU shot 48.5 percent (32-of-66) to Omaha’s 48.1 percent (25-of-52). The Mavericks made 10 of their 21 attempted treys for the evening.
In the first half, UNO shot 45 percent and its defense forced 11 CSU turnovers to lead by as much as 11. The Mavericks opened to a 12-2 lead, but Chicago State chipped away and hit three straight 3-pointers to go up 15-14. With the score tied 19-19, Omaha built a 24-19 tally, then charged to a 10-point margin on a trey by Carter. The Cougars closed the first stanza with a pair of buckets, including a three by Duhon, and UNO took a 36-30 lead by the break.
Chicago State whittled away with a 19-3 run to open the second half, making it 48-39. The Mavericks twice pulled within three on treys from Steffensmeier but did not regain control until a three-point play by Simmons and back-to-back buckets from Carter gave UNO a 64-62 advantage. A Simmons 3-pointer made it 69-62, capping a 12-0 Omaha run. With five free throws each from Simmons and Steffensmeier in the final 90 seconds, the Mavs claimed their 10th win, 79-75.
Omaha returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 23, hosting its first ESPN Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters game with North Dakota. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at Ralston Arena, and links to live stats and live video will be available on OMavs.com. The game will also be broadcast live on 1620 AM with Gary Sharp on the call.