RENO — The team with the best offense in the Mountain West showed Tuesday night that it can also play a little defense.
“They had a good game plan against us,“ Nevada coach David Carter said after his Wolf Pack lost to the Boise State Broncos, 74-65, in front of disappointed home crowd of 8,669. “That’s a very mature, veteran team. They‘ll figure out a way to beat you.”
The Broncos, who came into the game with the best offense in the conference at 79.6 points a game, ended the Wolf Pack’s four-game winning streak with a suffocating defense.
“Give them credit defensively,” Pack point guard Deonte Burton said. “They really sagged and packed the paint. They took away the drive.”
The Broncos seemingly put up a wall between the Wolf Pack and the basket. The Pack made just 19-of-55 field goal attempts (.345) for its worst shooting night of the season since it went 17-of-50 (34 per cent) against Morehead State on Nov. 24 in a 63-58 loss.
Burton, who entered the game as the Mountain West’s leading scorer at 21.8 points a game, seemed to be the focus of the Broncos’ sagging defense. The senior had a season-low one field goal (on eight shots) and seven points.
The eight shot attempts (four 3-pointers) were also a season low for Burton, who seemed to lose his aggressiveness as the game wore on. Burton, who was guarded by Boise’s Derrick Marks most of the night, took just three shots in the second half.
“Marks did a great job of making it tough to get around him,” Carter said. “But they did a real good job as a team, giving help and taking away all the driving lanes.”
Burton scored four points in the first half and three in the second.
For the first four minutes of the game, it was the Broncos who weren’t making any shots. The Wolf Pack jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Boise State didn’t score until Ryan Watkins’ lay-up 4:07 into the game.
“We had a good flow,“ Carter said. “After that we missed layups, had some defensive breakdowns and turned the ball over. They really took advantage of that and it changed the momentum.”
The energized Wolf Pack came out in the second half and took a 31-30 lead on a 3-point play by A.J. West with 18:01 to go. The slim Pack lead was compliments of a disappearing Broncos offense. Boise State went just over nine minutes without a field goal over the final 6:45 of the first half and the first 2:18 of the second half.
That 31-30 advantage, however, turned out to be the Pack’s final lead of the night.
The Wolf Pack now gets a week off before playing at Fresno State on Jan. 22.