Published Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm / Updated at 10:49 pm
BASKETBALL
UNO women top Doane; Lange sheds interim tag

For UNO women’s basketball interim head coach Brittany Lange, watching her team cling to a one-point lead with 2:42 left against NAIA opponent Doane College probably wasn’t how she planned to celebrate her 27th birthday.

But the Mavericks had enough in them in the final moments to keep from spoiling their coach’s day as they survived 80-72 against the Tigers in front of 572 at Sapp Fieldhouse.

Five Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Ericka House with 21 points. UNO used an 8-1 run to close out Doane and earn its fifth straight win.

While the Mavs’ play was somewhat forgettable, the day will be memorable for Lange for what happened off the court.

University of Nebraska at Omaha Athletic Director Trev Alberts announced after the game that the school will officially remove the “interim” label from Lange’s title.

She becomes the eighth full-time head coach and the youngest to lead the program in its 43-year history.

Lange said she would have liked to see her Mavericks play better defensively but was happy that they picked it up on the offensive end.

“Initially some shots that we usually make, we made, and I think it got in our heads early,” Lange said. “We kind of concentrated more so on the offensive end than the defensive end.”

Shelbi Bittinger gave the Mavericks headaches in the second half after sitting most of the first with two fouls. The freshman guard from Milford, Neb., led Doane with 25 points, making 6 of 7 from 3-point range.

Her jumper with 2:42 remaining got the Tigers to within a point of UNO at 72-71 after they trailed by 11 points 3:17 earlier.

Bittinger was 4 of 4 from the floor in that stretch with 10 points as Doane (4-9) threatened to escape with a win.

Tiger coach Tracee Fairbanks said Bittinger’s early foul trouble hurt.

“Shelbi was a hot hand. We had to sit her the whole first half because she had two fouls, and we wanted to save her,” Fairbanks said.

“She definitely sparked us that second half.”

Madi Robson had 15 points while Lanese Bough added 14 and Felicia Anderson and Sami Pawlak each scored 12 for the Mavericks (8-5).

Lange said she liked the balanced scoring but wanted to see the Mavs get more ball movement and produce more than nine assists on 31 field goals.

“Once we calm down a little bit and share the ball, which is what we do well, we’ll look a little bit better like our old selves,” Lange said.

Wednesday’s win over Doane began a five-game home stand for the Mavericks.

UNO faces Milwaukee on Sunday before beginning Summit League play Jan. 11 against Western Illinois.

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