Joe Santoro

In basketball, Nevada Wolf Pack turns tables on Boise State

Joe Santoro

Joe Santoro

The Boise State Broncos bring out the best and the worst of the Nevada Wolf Pack.
The worst, save for a miraculous night in November 2010 when Wolf Pack dreams finally came true in a 34-31 overtime win (thanks to Kyle Brotzman), usually happens on the football field. The Broncos have won six in a row against the Wolf Pack, 16 of the last 17 and 30-of-43 overall.
The basketball court, though, is where the Wolf Pack usually beats up on the Bronco bullies. The Wolf Pack men’s basketball team, which hosts Boise State at Lawlor Events Center this Friday night (6 p.m.) and Sunday afternoon (1 p.m.), normally doesn’t need a miracle to beat the former junior college.
The Wolf Pack owns a 48-28 lead in its all-time men’s basketball series with the Broncos and has won eight of the last nine.
The Pack beat Boise State 10-of-11 times in the early 1980s and 18-of-22 times in the first decade of this century.
Football gets almost all of the attention and hype when it comes to the Nevada-Boise State rivalry. But basketball gets almost all of the Pack victories.
A look back in chronological order at the 15 most memorable Wolf Pack men’s basketball games against Boise State . . .
WOLF PACK 79
BOISE STATE 66
Date: Dec. 22, 1977. Site: Centennial Coliseum, Reno. Attendance: 4,150. Coaches: Bus Connor (Boise State), Jim Carey (Nevada).
The first basketball meeting (the football rivalry began in 1971) between the two schools saw Nevada’s Edgar Jones score 23 points and pull down 12 rebounds. The game was part of the Wolf Pack Classic that also included TCU and Idaho State. Boise State was in the Big Sky Conference while Nevada was in the West Coast Athletic Conference. The Pack also got 17 points from Michael “Fly” Gray and 15 from Steve Hunter. Boise State got 22 from Danny Jones and 17 from Steve Connor. The Broncos led 32-30 at halftime. “He was just yelling at us (in the halftime locker room), saying it didn’t look like we wanted to win,” Wolf Pack player Scott Harries said of coach Jim Carey. One of the Boise State players was 6-foot-5 senior Trent Johnson, who scored 14 points. Johnson would later coach the Wolf Pack from 1999-2004 and beat Boise State eight of nine times.
BOISE STATE 60
WOLF PACK 59
Date: Jan. 24, 1980. Site: Centennial Coliseum, Reno. Attendance: 3,260. Coaches: Bus Connor (Boise State), Jim Carey (Nevada).
The first conference meeting (both teams were in the Big Sky) between the Broncos and Wolf Pack ended in a heartbreaking Pack loss. The Pack led by as much as eight in the first half. “It’s amazing how we give away leads in close games,” Carey said. Wolf Pack players Robert Martin and Bobby Fox yelled at each other going into halftime had to be separated in the locker room by Carey. Fox sat on the bench in street clothes in the second half. Gene Ransom scored 17 for the Pack. Boise’s Matt Wilkerson had three free throws in the final 90 seconds to hold off Nevada. The Pack’s only basket in the final 5:30 was a tip-in by Lee Fobbs.
WOLF PACK 84
BOISE STATE 83
Date: Feb. 19, 1983. Site: Boise State Pavilion. Attendance: 4,508. Coaches: Dave Leach (Boise State), Sonny Allen (Nevada).
The Wolf Pack’s first game at the Boise Pavilion (renamed Taco Bell Arena in 2004 and ExtraMile Arena in 2019) was saved by Ken “Tree” Green. Green scored 36 points, including two free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Pack an 84-80 lead. Boise’s Vince Hinchen scored 33. Boise’s Mike Hazel missed a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer. Sam Mosley had 20 for the Pack and Billy Allen had 11. Allen’s turnover with four seconds left, though, gave Hazel a chance to win the game.
WOLF PACK 52
BOISE STATE 50
Date: Feb. 25, 1984. Site: Lawlor Events Center, Reno. Attendance: 4,785. Coaches: Bobby Dye (Boise State), Sonny Allen (Nevada).
Dannie Jones’s 27-foot shot with eight seconds left (there was no 3-point shot) broke a 50-50 tie. Jones threw up his shot to beat the shot clock off a pass from Curtis High, who was trapped in the corner. Jones finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists and was just 4-of-15 from the floor. High had 21 points and made 9-of-12 shots. Boise, playing without leading scorer Vince Hinchen (out with the flu), got 18 points from Frank Jackson. The game was the first in the rivalry played at the new Lawlor Events Center.
WOLF PACK 76
BOISE STATE 74
Date: Feb. 23, 1985. Site: Boise Pavilion. Attendance: 6,843. Coaches: Bobby Dye (Boise State), Sonny Allen (Nevada).
A Rob Harden 3-pointer gave the Wolf Pack a 73-68 lead with a minute to play. Ed Porter’s 3-point play cut Boise’s lead to 67-66 with just under four minutes to go. Boise led by as many as 10 in the second half. A layup by Tony Sommers gave the Pack its first lead at 68-67 with three minutes left. Sommers’ two free throws put the Pack up 70-67 with two minutes to go. The game earned the Pack at least a share of the Big Sky regular season title. “We wanted to prove to them that we were the number one team in the league,” Porter said. Curtis High had 11 points, eight assists and three steals for the Pack.
WOLF PACK 59
BOISE STATE 53
Date: Jan. 13, 1990. Site: Boise Pavilion. Attendance: 8,074. Coaches: Bobby Dye (Boise State), Len Stevens (Nevada).
Len Stevens, in his third year as Pack coach, had never beaten Boise State (0-4). The Pack went into this game on a three-game losing streak, losing two of the games by one point. “It was desperation time,” Wolf Pack freshman center Ric Herrin said. Herrin was matched up against Boise freshman center Tanoka Beard. “We heard him on the radio saying that he wanted to show who was the best freshman in the conference,” Herrin said. The Pack led 31-21 at halftime and still led 52-48 with 1:45 to go. Herrin, who had 13 points, didn’t play the last six minutes because of foul trouble. The Pack won the game at the free throw line, going 24-of-34 while Boise was just 8-of-15. Pack leading scorer Kevin Franklin had just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting. Beard finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. “This is an important victory for our team, our morale and our sanity,” Stevens said.
WOLF PACK 75
BOISE STATE 72
Date: Jan. 16, 1991. Site: Boise Pavilion. Attendance: 7,178. Coaches: Bobby Dye (Boise State), Len Stevens (Nevada).
The Wolf Pack had to go to overtime to beat the Broncos, although Herrin clearly outplayed Beard in a matchup of the two top sophomores. Herrin had 16 points, including six to start the overtime. Beard was 1-of-10 from the floor and fouled out in the first minute of overtime. “Rick kept his head and Tanoka didn’t,” Stevens said. Nevada’s Kevin Soares had 21 points, including two free throws with four seconds left. Boise’s Danny Jones was called for traveling with six seconds to go and the Pack up 73-72.
WOLF PACK 78
BOISE STATE 74
Date: Feb. 6, 1992. Site: Boise Pavilion. Attendance: 7,118. Coaches: Bobby Dye (Boise State), Len Stevens (Nevada).
Boise led 41-36 at halftime and still led by 14 six minutes into the second half. The Pack, though, went on a 22-4 run to take a 66-62 lead with 6:35 to go. Kevin Soares was 5-of-6 from the line in the final 75 seconds to hold off the Broncos. Beard clearly won this match up with Herrin. The Boise junior had 18 points while Herrin had six points and was limited to just 16 minutes because of foul trouble. Eric Morris led the Pack with 25 points, draining 11-of-13 shots, and pulling down nine rebounds. “This showed we are capable of being a championship team,” Stevens said. The Pack would win 12 of its final 15 games in 1991-92 to finish 19-10 but Stevens would be fired after a 9-17 season in 1992-93.
WOLF PACK 62
BOISE STATE 59
Date: March 2, 2000. Site: Lawlor Events Center, Reno. Attendance: 5,769. Coaches: Rod Jensen (Boise State), Trent Johnson (Nevada).
The Wolf Pack jumped out to a 14-3 lead six minutes into the game but led just 28-22 by halftime. A Tommy Zapata 3-pointer gave the Pack a 36-27 lead with 17 minutes to play but Boise State went on an 18-8 run to take a 45-44 lead eight minutes later. Justin Lyons’ two free throws gave Boise a 51-46 lead with 6:22 to play as the Pack offense disappeared. The Wolf Pack then dominated the final six-plus minutes. A three by Zapata capped an 8-0 Pack run and an Adrian McCullough jumper gave the Pack a 60-57 lead with 29 seconds left. Two free throws by Terrance Green gave the Pack a 62-57 lead with 17 seconds left. Zapata had 21 points in 34 minutes off the bench. Lyons had 20 for Boise but the Broncos’ Abe Jackson was 2-of-15 from the floor and missed six of his seven 3-pointers and finished with just five points.
WOLF PACK 67
BOISE STATE 64
Date: Feb. 6, 2003. Site: Boise Pavilion. Attendance: 4,440. Coaches: Greg Graham (Boise State), Trent Johnson (Nevada).
Terrance Green scored 20 points in 30 minutes off the bench and had three of the Pack’s five 3-pointers. Kirk Snyder had 18 points (11 on free throws) and 11 rebounds. Boise State led 38-32 at halftime but the Pack took a 47-42 lead with 12:45 to play on a Dean Browne layup. Boise State cut the Pack lead to one twice in the final four minutes. A Jerry Petty jumper gave Nevada a 64-59 lead with 1:45 to go and Snyder had three free throws in the last 48 seconds to secure the victory. The Pack was 20-of-26 from the line while Boise was 11-of-17. Aaron Haynes had 19 points off the bench for the Broncos.
BOISE STATE 73
WOLF PACK 72
Date: March 10, 2005. Site: Lawlor Events Center. Attendance: 7,427. Coaches: Greg Graham (Boise State), Mark Fox (Nevada).
This game, undoubtedly, is the Wolf Pack’s most devastating loss to the Broncos in the 44-year rivalry. The Pack took a 10-game winning streak (20 wins in its last 22 games) and was the clear favorite to win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament at Lawlor Events Center going into this game. The Pack had already beaten Boise twice that season by 18 and 10 points. The Wolf Pack, though, missed six of its seven 3-point shots and nine of its 26 free throws to suffer the upset. Boise State’s Coby Karl scored 18 points and had four steals. Jermaine Blackburn’s jumper with a second to play beat the Pack. Blackburn scored off a missed Karl free throw for the game-winner. Mo Charlo, who had 17 points, was 1-of-2 from the line to give the Pack a 72-70 lead. Nick Fazekas scored 18 points but Kevinn Pinkney scored just three points in 28 minutes for the Pack.
WOLF PACK 82
BOISE STATE 79
Date: Jan. 26, 2006. Site: Taco Bell Arena, Boise. Attendance: 4,563. Coaches: Greg Graham (Boise State), Mark Fox (Nevada).
Coby Karl had 32 points for Boise State but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Pack this time. Nick Fazekas had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Shiloh had 20 points on four 3-pointers to lead Nevada. Boise, though, led 47-34 a minute into the second half. A 3-pointer by Nevada’s Marcelus Kemp tied the game at 62-62 with nine minutes to go. Kemp later added a 3-point play to tie things at 75-75 with 4:20 to go. Fazekas drained a three for a 78-77 lead and Shiloh did the same for an 81-79 lead with 1:20 left.
WOLF PACK 69
BOISE STATE 67
Date: Jan. 15, 2011. Site: Taco Bell Arena, Boise. Attendance: 6,473. Coaches: Leon Rice (Boise State), David Carter (Nevada).
The Wolf Pack exploded out to a 23-8 lead with 7:30 to go in the first half but had to fight off the Broncos the rest of the way. Boise State cut the Pack lead to just 33-28 by halftime and took a 56-52 lead with six minutes to play. That lead, though, was the final advantage for Boise. Malik Story scored eight unanswered points, thanks to two 3-pointers, as the Wolf Pack took a 60-56 lead with 3:34 to go. Deonte Burton scored 20 points for the Pack, including two free throws for a 66-60 lead with 1:25 to go. Story had 16 points despite missing 9-of-13 3-pointers. A pair of free throws by Olek Czyz gave the Pack a 69-64 lead with five seconds to play. Dario Hunt had 12 points eight rebounds and two blocks for the Pack.
WOLF PACK 83
BOISE STATE 81
Date: March 8, 2014. Site: Taco Bell Arena, Boise. Attendance: 6,892. Coaches: Leon Rice (Boise State), David Carter (Nevada).
Deonte Burton scored 11 of his 25 points in overtime as the Wolf Pack outlasted the Broncos. Burton was 4-of-5 from the floor in overtime and made 3-of-4 free throws. He never left the floor, playing all 50 minutes in the two-overtime game. Michael Perez had 17 for the Pack while Jerry Evans had 15 points and seven rebounds and Marqueze Coleman scored 12 off the bench. Ryan Watkins had 27 for Boise State along with 14 rebounds. Coleman had a 3-pointer to tie the game at 62-62 with 2:06 to play in regulation. Neither team, however, could score in the final two minutes. Boise State missed four free throws in the final 2:36 of regulation.
WOLF PACK 72
BOISE STATE 71
Date: Jan. 15, 2019. Site: Taco Bell Arena, Boise. Attendance: 8,022. Coaches: Leon Rice (Boise State), Eric Musselman (Nevada).
Cody Martin’s 3-pointer with five seconds to play gave the Wolf Pack a stunning victory on the road. “I couldn’t see the rim,” Martin said. “When the play broke down I just saw an opening and took it.” Boise led 71-69 with 1:39 after a jumper by Alex Hobbs (19 points). “They just made one more play than we did,” Boise coach Leon Rice said. The Pack was ranked No. 10 in the nation going into the game and improved to 17-1 with the victory. Jordan Caroline had 15 points and 13 rebounds on his birthday. Cody Martin had 16 points while twin brother Caleb had 10 on 3-of-11 shooting (all 3-point shots).

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