When UNO needed a big shot against Northwestern State, senior center Scott Plaisance delivered from an unlikely spot.
Standing in the corner, he drained a 3-pointer off a pass from Ezekiel Charles with 1:12 left in regulation. The basket, which gave the Privateers a 2-point lead in a game they eventually won in overtime, was a microcosm of their season, with different players stepping up at crucial moments time and time again.
Plaisance, a 6-foot-9 Country Day product who transferred from UL-Lafayette two years ago, was 2 for 20 for his career on 3-point attempts before taking that shot. He had missed 10 in a row since sinking one against UAB on Dec. 14.
No matter. He released the ball with confidence.
“I work on it daily,” he said, smiling. “They call me Jump Shot Scott, so I’m very comfortable with my shooting.”
The Privateers (13-9, 8-3 Southland Conference), winners of four in a row, are getting more comfortable with each other by the week. They enter Saturday’s 4;15 p.m. home contest with struggling Nicholls State (10-12, 3-6) a half-game behind second-place Abilene Christian (19-4, 8-2) and within hailing distance of Sam Houston State (15-8, 10-0), which arrives at Lakefront Arena on Feb. 27.
UNO will look to hand Nicholls its sixth consecutive defeat.
“We’re playing some of the best basketball we have all year,” Plaisance said. “We’re going for that end goal, a championship.”
Charles was the go-to guy against Northwestern State, racking up 10 of his career-high 31 points in overtime as UNO pulled away to win 81-73. But the Privateers are 3-1 in conference games when he is held under his team-leading average of 12.9 points, and he passed to Plaisance rather than forcing his own shot at the critical moment.
“None of us is selfish at the end of the day,” Charles said. “We just play our game. Our coaches put us in the right position, and they let us play.”
During conference games, five guys have led the Privateers in scoring and rebounding.
Plaisance came up huge on Wednesday scoring 14 points for his first game in double figures since a fractured rib forced him to miss three games early in January.
“Our team has a lot of depth,” he said. “There’s not one guy who’s a loose chink in the chain.”
Plaisance at full strength gives the Privateers a different look. After struggling in his first four games back from the rib injury, he has 20 points with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots in the past two.
He scored 12 or more five times in a nine-game stretch right before getting hurt.
“It changes us dramatically because he carried us a lot in the non-conference,” coach Mark Slessinger said. “He’s finally got some pop back where he’s comfortable. A broken rib is not a fun injury to have. It’s very painful. The fact that he played through a lot of pain says a lot about his character.”
That asset applies to the entire team. UNO is 3-0 in overtime games during conference play, outscoring its opponents 51-31 during the extra sessions.
Northwestern State sent Wednesday’s game to overtime on a tough, buzzer-beating shot in traffic from center Ishmael Lane, who then scored the first basket of the extra session.
UNO was not flustered, rattling off the final eight points to win going away.
“They have great resolve,” Slessinger said. “They believe they can pull it off and make winning plays. They share the ball, believe in each other, generally do the right things basketball-wise and play incredibly hard. That’s what brings us success.”