Starting in place of the injured Ezekiel Charles, little-used senior Jorge Rosa proved exactly why the UNO men’s basketball team is nowhere close to finished without its leading scorer and rebounder.
Rosa, who had averaged fewer than 2 points since December, drained 3-pointers on the first two possessions and two more by the midpoint of the first half on his way to a career-high 18 points as the Privateers buried Southeastern Louisiana 89-68 under a barrage of long-range shots on Wednesday night at Lakefront Arena.
The win moved UNO (15-10, 10-4 Southland Conference) into sole possession of third place in the league while Southeastern (13-14, 9-5), which had taken six of the last seven meetings between the teams, lost for the first time in six games.
“I was just doing my job,” Rosa said. “My teammates put me in the right position, and I did what I had to do. I felt good, but we were just really focused on winning.”
Without Charles, a senior who tore his Achilles tendon in practice last week, the Privateers looked like they could not miss. They drained 14 3-pointers—one shy of the school record — in 23 attempts, going ahead 19-5 early and leading wire to wire.
Fellow guard Bryson Robinson was just as hot as Rosa, making five 3s in the first half. The duo combined to go 11 for 16 from behind the arc.
“It was one of those nights when our offense really clicked,” Robinson said. “We just took off.”
Forward Moses Greenwood led Southeastern with 26 points and kept the Lions from getting blown out early, hitting 8 of 11 shots in the first half as they came as close as six points, 31-25. But his teammates went 5 of 21 before the break, and UNO extended its advantage to 44-31 by halftime thanks to two more 3s from Robinson.
Rosa hit yet another 3 on the first possession of the second half, starting a 27-10 run that sealed the outcome quickly.
The Lions had no answer. Their previous four conference defeats had come by a combined total of 20 points, including three by five or fewer.
“They are a phenomenal team,” UNO coach Mark Slessinger said. “We played pretty solid tonight.”
UNO, which is 2-0 since losing Charles, remained three games behind Southland leader Sam Houston State, which plays at Lakefront Arena next Wednesday.