RENO -- Without their leading scorer or making a field goal over the final eight minutes of the game, Nevada still managed to pull out a 92-79 win over Fresno State on Saturday night in front of 9,440 fans at Lawlor Events Center, the ninth largest ever at the 20-year old arena.
Kirk Snyder fouled out with nine minutes left in the game but Garry Hill-Thomas and Terrance Green were there to make up for his absence as the Wolf Pack beat the Bulldogs for the third consecutive time.
"It's a big win in the fact that we all played together and they were the No. 1 team in this conference," said Green, who broke out of a recent slump with 21 points. "I think we came out and executed well offensively. I think we took good shots. I think it was a combination of everyone playing hard."
After a Nevada cheerleader injured her neck with 7:21 left to play and the Wolf Pack leading 77-56, Fresno State started to make a comeback. The Bulldogs came off the 25-minute delay and went on an 8-0 run to make it 77-64.
"It was very unfortunate that that happened," Hill-Thomas said of the injured cheerleader, who was taken to a local hospital. "I hope she's all right. We lost a little momentum. They played well coming out of it. We're just happy to come with the win."
Sean Paul's basket at the 8:16 mark gave Nevada its 77-56 lead, but that was also the last field goal it would score the rest of the way. The Wolf Pack's final 15 points of the game came from the free throw line, where they shot 34-of-47 for the game.
"I think that was a period where we lost some momentum," said coach Trent Johnson. "We really had it going at that point. They (his team) are maturing and growing up. Kids are defining their roles, they're starting to believe and understanding what it takes to win basketball games."
The win keeps Nevada in second place in the WAC and 1 1/2 games behind first-place Fresno State (15-4 overall, 8-2 WAC). The Wolf Pack (11-8, 6-3) plays at Boise State on Thursday and at UTEP on Saturday.
"We don't want to be in second place," Green said. "We just look as being in second place as temporary. When we play together and we play hard, I don't think there is a team that can stop us."
Nevada is 2-7 on the road this season, but if it can get production like it did from Hill-Thomas and Green the rest of the season, it might have a chance at moving up in the standings.
Hill-Thomas scored a season high 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting and was 12-of-15 from the foul line. Nevada shot 50 percent from the field and 72 percent from the foul line. The Wolf Pack has won six of the their past seven games, including three straight at Lawlor.
"My goal was to win 2/3 of them," Hill-Thomas said of the current home stand. "I think we surprised a lot of people by winning all three."
"We needed to get that sweep," said junior guard Todd Okeson, who had 14 points and was 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line. "We've been struggling on the road all season. Hopefully this little home stand, we grew up a little. I think everybody's finding a role. I think if we stick to that role, we're going to be a hard team to beat now."
Fresno State went up 13-6 early, then saw the Wolf Pack go on a 12-0 run and take an 18-13 lead. Nevada took its final lead after Paul's basket with 11:01 left in the first half. The Wolf Pack led 45-37 at the break and their biggest lead was 21 points when the cheerleader was injured.
Damon Jackson scored 21 and Hiram Fuller had 18 for Fresno State, which had two players foul out, Noel Felix and Travis DeManby. Jerry Petty added 12 for Nevada.
"We're in second now, we're playing better," Johnson said. "(But) it's only halfway through the season. It's not anything to jump up and down about. We haven't proven anything."