Cam Oliver spent the first half watching his Nevada Wolf Pack teammates. In the second half the Wolf Pack sophomore helped lead his teammates to a 79-64 victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions.
“It was frustrating,” said Oliver, who sat on the bench for 17 of the 20 first-half minutes because of foul trouble. “It would be frustrating for anybody. But I kept a strong mind.”
Oliver picked up two quick fouls in the first three minutes of the game and then took a seat on the bench for the final 17 minutes.
“That’s kind of our rule,” Pack coach Eric Musselman said. “Our guys know if they get two quick fouls that is what is going to happen. It’s kind of my rule of thumb. It would have been foolish not to put him back in if they (Marymount) had more of a scoring run. But, no, as long as we were ahead, I didn’t consider putting him back out there in the first half.”
Oliver played 14 minutes in the second half, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The 6-foot-8 Oliver finished with 14 points to go along with an assist, one rebound and one block.
“Cam had a few games last year when he had to sit in the first half and he always came back strong in the second half,” Musselman said. “I had no doubts about his mental toughness. I felt he’d be fine.”
Oliver scored 13 points in the first eight minutes of the second half. Nine of the points - two dunks, a jumper and a free throw - came in a flurry of just 1:16.
“It was a different game in the second half,” Oliver said.
PUT YOUR RIGHT FOOT OUT: Marcus Marshall insists he doesn’t know that he’s doing it. But his father always lets him know when he does.
“It’s just a habit,” said Marshall, who kicks his right foot out on his jump shot. “I don’t do it on purpose. I don’t even know I’m doing it.”
Marshall finished with 18 points in the win over Loyola Marymount, sinking 6-of-15 shots overall and 4-of-10 from 3-point range.
“Everytime I talk to my dad (Will) he always tells me, ‘I see you still kick out your leg,’” Marshall said. “That’s always the first thing he tells me.”
TOUGHER IN THE PAINT: The Wolf Pack, Musselman said, improved its defense in the paint Monday night. The Pack allowed 56 points in the paint in an 81-63 loss at Saint Mary’s last Friday night. Against Marymount, the Pack allowed 42.
“I just think we just knew what to expect this time,” Oliver said. “That Jock Landale (the Saint Mary’s center who scored 33 points on 15-of-20 shooting, mostly on layups) dominated us in the paint. We knew we had to be more aggressive.”
Loyola Marymount also exploited the Pack defense inside but Musselman was happy with the improvement in his defense.
“We were better,” Musselman said. “And we are going to keep getting better. Our bigs all did a great job, especially on pick and roll defense.”
LINEUP CHANGE: Musselman made a change in his lineup Monday night, inserting freshman point guard Devearl Ramsey and junior forward Jordan Caroline into the starting lineup in place of point guard Lindsey Drew and forward D.J. Fenner.
Ramsey played 21 minutes and had two points and four assists while Carolien scored eight points and had four rebounds in 24 minutes. Drew and Fenner actually were more productive. Drew had seven points, seven assists, two blocks and two steals in 31 minutes while Fenner had 12 points, five rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes.
“Sometimes as a coach you have to make tough decisions,” Musselman said. “I think the changes in our starting lineup made us deeper. But we’re still a work in progress..”
CHIPPY AFFAIR: The Wolf Pack and Lions got into a couple of brief physical encounters. Fenner tussled with the Lions’ Munis Tutu in the first half (Tutu threw the ball at Fenner’s head) and Elijah Foster traded elbows and stares with the Lions’ Mattias Markusson in the second half.
“It was a good learning experience for us,” Musselman said. “We always want to keep our heads but our team is not going to back down from anybody. If it gets physical, we’ll get physical.”
“It’s not our intention to be physical or get technical fouls,” Foster said. “But we’re not scarred. We won’t back down from anybody.”
THIS AND THAT: Loyola Marymount now leads its series with the Wolf Pack, 29-15. The teams last met before Monday night on Dec. 20, 1995 . . . The two head coaches Monday night at Lawlor are former NBA head coaches. Musselman coached the Golden State Warriors for two seasons (2002-03 and 2003-04) and the Sacramento Kings for one (2006-07). Marymount’s Mike Dunlap coached the Charlotte Bobcats in 2012-13 . . . Fenner’s 12 points leaves him just 112 points from becoming the 26th Wolf Pack player in history with 1,000 career points . . . The Wolf Pack has now won six consecutive games at Lawlor dating back to last season . . . Musselman now has a career record of 26-15 at Nevada.