After losing all three games of a homestand midway through January, the UNO men’s basketball team’s confidence may have been at an all-time low.
But the Privateers were riding high after Monday’s 74-53 win over Nicholls State in Southland Conference play at the Lakefront Arena.
Monday’s win completed a 3-0 run at home during the homestand and marked UNO’s first three-game winning streak since January 2014.
“I think the guys are more focused, and offensively we’ve turned the corner,” coach Mark Slessinger said. “I think we’ve evolved a lot offensively, and that’s a big part of it. We’ve just got to keep going and get better.”
Christavious Gill led the charge for the Privateers (8-12, 4-5) with 17 points and three steals. Michael Zeno added 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
“It all started after we went on that five-game losing streak,” Gill said. “I told myself I was going to get in the gym every day. I’ve been getting shots up before practice and after practice, and I think that helped me tonight.”
UNO struggled to gain rhythm early on offense, missing its first nine field-goal attempts, but the Privateers quickly got over their slow start and took over.
After going without a field goal for the first five minutes, UNO finished the second half making 12 of its next 21 shots while holding the Colonels (5-18, 1-8) to 5-of-17 from the field.
The Privateers closed the first half on a 24-4 run and took a 39-21 lead into halftime.
“We had some early fouls, and we had to play a few weird lineup combinations we weren’t used to,” Slessinger said. “Once we got our feet back under us, I think we were able to get going and start taking great, attacking shots again.”
The Privateers never allowed their lead to shrink any lower than 14 points in the final 20 minutes. But while they built their lead with a first-half offensive explosion, the Privateers maintained that lead with one of their better defensive performances of the season.
UNO held Nicholls to 35 percent shooting and baited the Colonels into 30 turnovers, the most the Privateers have forced this season.
“Defense created shots for us, and our defense is what gets us going,” Gill said. “In practice, if you don’t play defense, you run. So I think that just might have been on our mind tonight.”