With the game on the line, Caleb Martin took over.
Martin scored eight of Nevada’s last 12 points to lift the Mountain West-leading Wolf Pack to a 76-67 win over Colorado State on Saturday at Moby Arena.
The win pushed Nevada to 20-4 overall and 9-1 in conference. CSU falls to 10-15, 3-9. The Rams have yet to win a conference game at home.
Nevada returns home for games against UNLV on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and San Diego State on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Colorado State played the game without head coach Larry Eustachy, who was placed on administrative leave by the university hours before tip off. Reports indicated that he was being investigated for his treatment of players. The team was coached by associate head coach Steve Barnes.
Defense played a big role for the Pack. Nevada didn’t shoot well from the floor, including the 3-point line (eight made), yet still found a way to win. The Rams shot just 26.7 from the floor in the final 20 minutes after shooting 52 percent in the first half.
“Look at Colorado State’s record, and they might be the best 10-15 team I’ve seen,” said Anthony Ruta, Nevada assistant coach. “They play so hard. They are such a unique offensive system. They are tough to prepare for.
“What we really preached at halftime is that we were giving them too many uncontested 3-point shots. The second half I don’t think we gave them any easy looks. It was an uncharacteristic game for us. We didn’t shoot well, but on the flip side, we found a way to win. Even if the 3-ball isn’t falling, we played great defense and got to the foul line.”
Nevada was holding on to a 64-60 lead when Martin, who finished with 26 points, went off.
Martin, who went 11-for-14 from the line, drained a free throw to make it 65-60, and after an empty possession by CSU, Martin was fouled beyond the 3-point line. He made two to make it 67-62 with 2:43 left. Ruan Mitchell misfired on the next possession and Martin drained a long 3-pointer with just three seconds left on the shot clock for a 70-62 lead with 1:54 left.
The Rams made it 70-63 on a Nico Carvacho free throw, but Martin completed his personal eight-point scoring binge for a 72-63 lead. The Rams did close to 72-67 thanks to two free throws by Anthony Bonner and a layup by Carvacho.
Lindsey Drew salted away the win with two free throws with 16 seconds left and then Hallice Cooke, who didn’t miss a shot all night, hit a layup at the buzzer.
Drew tied a career high with 16 points, and Ruta was full of praise for the junior point guard.
“You look at the box score, and every night he has numbers,” Ruta said. “He did such a great job tonight. He does a good job of letting the game come to him.”
The Wolf Pack used a 15-for-15 effort from the line to grab a 37-35 halftime lead. It’s a good thing Nevada was perfect at the line, because the Pack shot 32 percent from the field. Nevada had a 15-4 advantage from the foul line.
Colorado State led 14-11 six minutes into the game, but Nevada went on a 9-0 run to grab a 20-14 lead. Cooke buried two 3-pointers and Jordan Caroline had a three-point play. For both it was their only points of the half. Caroline was 1-for-10 from the floor.
The Rams closed to 22-21 with a 7-2 run of their own. A put back by Josh Hall and three free throws by Caleb Martin pushed the Pack lead to 27-21. Five points by Che Bob and a bucket by Deion James enabled the Rams to cut the deficit to 29-28.
Free throws by Drew and Caleb Martin made it 33-28. Two free throws by Bob made it 33-30, but Cody Martin answered with a 17-footer to make it 35-30. Bob, who scored 10 straight points for the Rams, hit another 3-pointer to make it 35-33. Carvacho tied the game at 35 with 1:20 left before Drew untied it with two free throws to make it 37-35.