PULLMAN, Wash. — The Omaha men’s basketball team knocked off its first Pac-12 opponent in school history Thursday night, defeating Washington State 85-77 at Beasley Coliseum.
The Mavericks overcame a 15-point second-half deficit for the win, which improves them to 3-3 on the season. The Cougars dropped to 2-2.
Leaders for Omaha
KJ Robinson’s 18-point second-half performance sparked the Mavericks, as the senior finished with a team-leading 20 off the bench on 6-of-12 shooting. Classmate JT Gibson joined Robinson in double figures with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Robinson (6-of-6) and Gibson (4-of-4) combined for a perfect 10-of-10 effort at the free throw line.
Leaders for Washington State
CJ Elleby led the Cougars with a game-high 27 points and nine rebounds. Isaac Bonton (18), Aljaz Kunc (13) and Jeff Pollard (12) also scored in double figures.
Omaha shot 49.2% (29-of-59) to Washington State’s 34.8% (24-of-69). The Mavericks hit at an 83.3% (20-of-24) clip at the stripe.
Additionally, Omaha won the rebounding battle, 41-37, and outscored the Cougars in the paint, 24-18.
Inside the First Half
Omaha led early and did not trail WSU until the 6:29 mark, when a Bonton three put the Cougars up 30-27. It was part of an 11-0 run that gave WSU a 35-27 advantage with five minutes to go.
The Mavericks, who had just one 3-pointer in the first half, were held without a field goal for the last four minutes, as WSU took a 48-35 lead at the half.
Zach Thornhill paced the Mavericks with 10 points in the opening stanza.
Inside the Second Half
Omaha trailed by as many as 15, as WSU extended its lead to 53-38 less than three minutes into the second half. But the Mavericks shot 53.6% (15-of-28) and canned six threes while holding WSU to 29 points on 20.0% shooting (7-of-35).
The Mavericks used a 10-0 run — with the final seven points courtesy of Robinson — to creep within five at 53-48.
A 9-0 spurt, keyed by seven straight points from Robinson and punctuated by a Gibson jumper, finally gave Omaha the lead once more, 69-65, which held over the final five minutes.
Quoting Head Coach Derrin Hansen
“Our two seniors tonight were really good, especially late, as they made big shots and controlled the basketball. During the second half, we were better on the ball, and we had six threes, which was also critical, as two or three or those were timely.
“I’m very proud of our team to win one on the back end of a trip, which is always difficult. Hopefully this is one we can build off of as we continue.”
Noting Tonight’s Game
-Omaha has now defeated three Power Six opponents during its Division I era: Marquette (97-89 in 2014-15), Iowa (98-89 in 2016-17) and Washington State (85-77 in 2019-20).
-Omaha was previously 0-6 against Pac-12 opponents. This is its first of two meetings with a member of the conference this season, as the Mavericks visit Arizona on Dec. 11.
-Over Derrin Hansen‘s 15-year career, the Mavericks have prevailed over a double-digit deficit 32 times, including 20 in the Division I era. This is their first double-digit comeback of 2019-20.
-The Mavericks are the first Summit League team since 2011-12 (South Dakota State over Washington) to defeat a Pac-12 opponent.
Omaha returns to Baxter Arena for the Cayman Islands Classic Mainland Tournament at Omaha, Nov. 25-26. The Mavericks open with Southern on Monday at 7 p.m., which follows a neutral-site matchup between Loyola (Md.) and IUPUI at 4:30 p.m.