Grades: Boise beats on lackluster Pack

Nevada’s Desmond Cambridge, Jr., is fouled by a Boise State player on Jan. 12, 2022 at Lawlor Events Center in Reno. (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

Nevada’s Desmond Cambridge, Jr., is fouled by a Boise State player on Jan. 12, 2022 at Lawlor Events Center in Reno. (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

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Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 85-70 loss to the Boise State Broncos on Wednesday at Lawlor Events Center.

The final numbers look fine. Sherfield finished with 26 points on 7-of-17 shooting to go along with seven assists and just two turnovers in 36 minutes. He also made 11-of-12 free throws, so he was aggressive at times. But he looked like a rusty, out-of-sync version of himself on Wednesday. Those 26 points were all just empty calories like most of the Pack numbers in this game. The Wolf Pack leader never took over the game, never even got his team a lead, had just two rebounds and never even got a single steal. Sherfield started the game passively, not scoring for nearly the first nine minutes. He didn’t even take a shot until the game was five minutes old and didn’t make one (from the field) until there was just 5:34 left in the half. Sherfield, though, did score 10 of his team’s last 12 points of the first half and then 10 of the first 21 in the second half. But none of his 14 points in the second half got the Pack any closer to Boise than nine points (55-46 with 13:30 to play). Most of Sherfield’s 26 points on the night simply cut into Boise’s double-digit lead.
Cambridge, too, had a respectable night, at least on paper. He scored 14 points in 29 minutes, making 5-of-10 shots and 3-of-5 threes. It was reassuring to see Cambridge rediscover his shot a bit after hitting on just 16-of-51 shots over his three previous games. He also had a team-high seven rebounds as nobody else on the Pack seemed interested in rebounding. But Cambridge also got to the free throw line just once, committed four fouls and turned the ball over three times. Some of his points, though, were important. He connected on two important shots in the first half, hitting a three to pull the Pack to within 14-11 and a jumper to cut Boise’s lead to 18-15 with nine minutes left. But then he spent the next five-plus minutes taking just one shot (he missed) and committing two fouls and Alford sat him down for the final four minutes of the half. In the second half he hit a three to cut Boise’s lead to 41-34, a jumper to make it 48-36 and had a rare 4-point play to pull the Pack to within 55-44 with 14 minutes left. But that 4-point play was the final points he scored in the game.
Baker started out the game on fire, scoring the Pack’s first seven points over the first three-plus minutes of the game. But then he disappeared. Baker never scored again, finishing his 24-minute performance with those seven points. He made his first three shots of the game and missed his last three. He also had half of his four rebounds for the night in those first three-plus minutes. Baker took three of the Pack’s first six shots and then took three of the Pack’s next 54 shots. The Wolf Pack needs to get their talented 7-foot center more involved in the offense on a more consistent basis.
Blackshear nearly brought the Pack back in the game all by himself with an out-of-the-blue offensive explosion late in the second half. After not scoring for the first 34 minutes of the game (he missed his first three shots) the 6-6 guard from Orlando had a dunk, layup and 3-pointer in a span of just 84 seconds, getting the Pack to within 78-68 with 2:44 to play. That outburst from a guy who was averaging just six points a game was a welcome sight and left you wondering why he hasn’t been a bigger part of the offense all season. Those seven points, though, were the only points he scored during his 27 minutes. Blackshear also had three rebounds, two assists and a steal so there might be some untapped potential here the Pack needs to exploit a little more often.
Washington did contribute 11 points in his 24 minutes, getting to the free throw line often (5-of-6). But the 7-footer also had just three rebounds and no blocks and found himself on the bench as often as he was on the court. Two of his layups came 1:14 apart, cutting Boise’s lead to 73-57 with just under six minutes to play. Eight of Washington’s 11 points came in the second half. The Pack needs a better rebounding effort from Washington if this team is going to win important games.


Coleman’s shooting troubles returned in a big way. The 6-7 sophomore was 1-of-6 from the floor and missed all four of his 3-pointers. Coleman scored a season-high 13 points, hitting 4-of-7 shots, in the Pack’s 79-70 win over New Mexico on New Year’s Day, giving hope that his shot had finally emerged. But the 11-day layoff proved fatal to that hope. Coleman finished with three points in 26 minutes and also didn’t have an assist. He is now shooting just 22 percent from the floor this season and a frightening 16 percent (6-of-37) on threes, averaging 3.7 points over 25 minutes a game. The Pack bench has desperately needed someone to supply some offense and so far Coleman, who started eight of the first nine games and has come off the bench the last four games, has not been the answer.
Foster’s offense has completely vanished this year. He played 19 minutes against Boise, took just one shot and scored just one point. He basically spent his 19 minutes fouling (four) every Bronco player he could find and now has more fouls this season (32) than points (24). He also had just one rebound against Boise and now also has more fouls than rebounds (31) this year. Foster averaged 4.3 points a game as a freshman in 11 games. This year he is at 1.8 a game and rarely even shoots the ball anymore (just 6-of-19 all season in 235 minutes).
Huseinovic was on the floor for seven minutes and contributed a point, a rebound, a foul and took one shot (a three). Hymes returned to the floor for the first time since Dec. 18 against Loyola Marymount. He had two rebounds and didn’t take a shot or score in just six minutes against Boise. The Pack needs him back up to speed if this bench is going to contribute anything this year. Hymes has played just 45 total minutes over four games this season. Henry played just two minutes and had a rebound. Hymes, Henry and Huseinovic (call them the Pack’s 3-H Program) combined for one point, four rebounds in 15 minutes.
This was certainly not Steve Alford’s fault. But the team he put out on the floor Wednesday looked lackluster, unsure of itself and helpless to do anything about it. Boise State led from start to finish and basically dominated the game. Yes, the Pack had been off since Jan. 1, but Boise had not played since Dec. 28 and they were the road team on Wednesday. So Alford certainly didn’t get the best of Boise State coach Leon Rice. Rice’s Big Two (Marcus Shaver and Emmanuel Akot) got the best of the Pack’s Big Two (Sherfield, Cambridge), outscoring them 51-40. Alford, maybe because his starters combined for 16 fouls, also gave a lot of minutes (60) to a bench that did almost nothing.
This was the Wolf Pack’s most one-sided conference loss at home since a 78-62 loss to Colorado State on March 4, 2015. No, the Pack wasn’t sporting crew cuts and wearing short shorts, but it was the last home game of the David Carter era. The Pack was 42-4 at home in Mountain West games since the start of the 2016-17 season going into Wednesday night. So, yes, this was a bit surprising and disturbing, given how excited, motivated and full of energy Alford’s team should have been after playing just four games in the previous 42 days. But this is one of the strangest and most difficult seasons in Pack history because of a pandemic that plays with a schedule like a kitten knocks around a ball of yarn. Every night, it seems, has a season-opening feel to it this year so don’t read too much into what went on Wednesday night.


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