Grades: Pack has just enough offense to beat Bulldogs

Nevada guard Hunter McIntosh at Fresno State on Feb. 24, 2023.

Nevada guard Hunter McIntosh at Fresno State on Feb. 24, 2023.
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Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 60-56 men’s basketball victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs on Friday at Fresno, Calif.:



Lucas, the Pack’s leading scorer at 16.8 points a game and falling, is still in an offensive funk. But the 6-foot-3 shooting guard saved his performance on Friday with a five-minute flurry midway through the second half.

Lucas went to the bench with 15:18 to go in the second half to think about what he had already done against the Bulldogs. At that point he had just two points on 0-for-5 shooting from the floor and the Pack was trailing 41-36. The two (Lucas’ shooting and the Pack’s trailing) were no doubt related.

Lucas, though, stepped back on the court with 12:57 to go and the Pack still down by five. It took him all of 18 seconds to warm up, draining a jumper to cut the deficit to 43-40. A minute later he fed Hunter McIntosh for a 3-pointer to tie the game at 43-43. Two minutes after that he hit another jumper for a 47-46 lead and a little more than two minutes later he connected on another jumper for a 55-46 lead. His six points and assist over five-plus minutes played a big role in the Pack turning a 43-38 deficit into a 55-46 lead with seven minutes to go.

Lucas finished with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting so his struggles are clearly not over (he missed his final two shots). Over his last four games he has scored just 32 points on 10-of-40 shooting, 3-of-13 on threes. He has just 19 points on 7-of-29 shooting, 2-of-11 on threes, over the last three games.


We saw something on Friday that, well, we haven’t seen much of this season. The Wolf Pack pulled out a close game down the stretch with Blackshear playing a secondary and, at times, invisible role in the second half.

Blackshear had just two points and an assist in his 14-plus minutes in the second half. The Pack actually took control of the game with Blackshear on the bench for nearly five straight minutes, turning a 42-38 deficit into a 51-46 lead with 8:18 to play. The Pack was actually outscored 22-13 with Blackshear on the court in the second half.

Of course, a big reason the Pack had a 34-30 lead at halftime was because of Blackshear. He scored nine points in the opening 20 minutes, five in the final 1:23. He also fed Will Baker for a layup and Tre Coleman for a 3-pointer just 90 seconds apart for a 29-26 lead with 2:28 to go. His jumper and 3-pointer 30 seconds apart gave the Pack a 34-28 lead just 53 seconds before the break.

Blackshear finished with 11 points, six assists and four turnovers in 32 minutes. Fresno’s Leo Colimerio, though, stole the ball from Blackshear with four seconds to go in the half, leading to a layup by the Bulldogs’ Anthony Holland at the buzzer. Those four seconds seemed to bother Blackshear the entire second half.


Baker never caught fire, finishing with just 13 points in 26 minutes. But, as usual, he played a role in the Pack victory in the second half. The 6-foort-11 center had five points and an assist in a span of nine minutes as the Pack took a slim 58-56 lead with 54 seconds left. He did miss a free throw with 54 seconds left to give all Pack fans a minor panic attack but the offensively-challenged Bulldogs missed five 3-pointers in the final 31 seconds.

The physical Bulldogs, though, gave Baker problems all game long, holding him to just five shots in each half. Baker also only had just one rebound the entire game. Fresno State outscored the Pack 40-36 when Baker was on the floor.


Fresno State must have felt like there were five Tre Colemans on the floor in the first half. The 6-7 Pack defensive wizard had an unbelievable five steals in the first half, four in a span of under five minutes. He finished the game with those five steals to go along with five points, four rebounds, two assists and a block in his 32 minutes.

The five assists tied the Pack season high, set by Blackshear twice. It also equals the most by a Pack player in a game since Deonte Burton had six against Washington on Dec. 8, 2012. Coleman’s five assists also are the most in one half since Malik Cooke also had five against UNLV in the first half on Dec. 6, 2008. Cooke would get his sixth steal of the game against UNLV with 42 seconds left in the game.

Coleman set the tone on Friday right away by blocking a Leo Colimerio shot 26 seconds into the game. His 3-pointer gave the Pack a 29-26 lead with 2:28 to go in the first half.


Williams, like the Wolf Pack as a whole, struggled much more Friday at Fresno State than he and his teammates did at home two weeks earlier against the Bulldogs. Two weeks ago Williams had 16 points (4-of-5 shooting, 6-of-7 free throws), eight rebounds and five assists in a 77-66 victory over Fresno State at Lawlor Events Center. The 6-6 freshman finished with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, eight rebounds, two steals and one assist in the rematch. He missed two crucial free throws with the Pack up just 57-56 with 1:47 to play. But he redeemed himself nicely with two free throws with 23 seconds left to finish the scoring.

Williams’ work ethic came through as it usually does when he missed a layup, grabbed the offensive rebound and fed Hunter McIntosh for a 3-pointer and a 21-20 lead with 7:32 to go before halftime.



The 6-8 freshman contributed nicely in the first half, converting a layup and draining a 3-pointer just 30 seconds apart for a 16-12 lead with just under 11 minutes to go before the break. His other 13-plus minutes, though, were a lot of empty calories. Davidson played 10 of his 14 minutes in the first half when he did all his scoring and shooting (five points on 2-of-3 shooting). He played just four minutes in the second half and didn’t even take a shot.

Now that Hunter McIntosh is healthy and playing it seems Davidson is in jeopardy of losing his role as the Pack’s sixth man.


Foster played 16 valuable minutes and stood toe-to-toe with the physical Bulldogs under the basket as well as any Pack player. He scored just two points but also had four rebounds, three off the offensive glass, and a steal. All three of his offensive rebounds came in a span of just under four minutes when the Pack was in a dogfight in the second half. One of those offensive rebounds turned into a Foster layup and a 45-43 lead with 10 minutes to play. Another one, though, turned into a missed Foster layup with six minutes to go. Foster played 10:25 in a row in the second half, helping turn a 42-38 deficit into a 57-56 lead with 3:25 to play. The Pack outscored Fresno State 31-24 with Foster on the floor.

TYLER POWELL: Incomplete

Powell played just 97 seconds, all in the first half, and didn’t pick up a stat.


McIntosh, playing in just his second game this season, connected on a 3-pointer in each half, scoring six points in 13 minutes. The 6-2 point guard gave the Pack a 21-20 lead with a three with 7:32 to go in the opening half and tied the game, 43-43, with another three with 11:15 to play. He also fed Lucas for a short jumper in the paint to cut Fresno’s lead to 43-40 with 12:39 to play. The Pack’s challenge this week and in the Mountain West tournament next week is how to blend the point guard duties between Blackshear and McIntosh.


Steve Alford’s offense seems to be stagnating lately. Fresno State has done this to many teams this year so the Pack’s 60-point effort (its fewest points since a 64-52 loss to Loyola Marymount on Dec. 3) is not cause for alarm. But it does come on the heels of a pair of 66-point performances against Utah State and San Jose State. Getting the offense back to where it is up to speed and running efficiently should be Alford’s concern on Monday at Wyoming and in the regular season finale Saturday at home against UNLV.


It is almost impossible to lose to a team that misses 26-of-35 3-pointers, turns the ball over 17 times and makes just five free throws. But there the Pack was Friday, allowing a seemingly safe 57-49 lead with 5:19 to play get whittled down to a finger nail-biting 57-56 lead with under a minute to play.

Fresno obliged by missing its last eight 3-pointers over the final 2:12 but a team that can actually score might not be so friendly in the Mountain West tournament.

The emergence of McIntosh in the rotation is clearly a good thing. It might turn out to be a great thing. He takes pressure off of Blackshear at the point and gives the Pack another much-needed shooter. But blending in new players at the end of the year can be tricky.


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