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A tale of two halves for Demarshay

A tale of two halves for Demarshay

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Nevada’s Demarshay Johnson had an inauspicious start Thursday night against Fresno State.

The 6-9 Johnson picked up two fouls in the first 3 minutes, 51 seconds and then spent the rest of the half on the bench.

The senior came back in the second half to score nine of his 11 points and grab six of his seven rebounds to help Nevada grab a 64-57 quarterfinal win over Fresno State in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament at the Pan American Center.

“Demarshay was in foul trouble in the first half and told me he’d make up for it in the second half,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “The second half he did a good job. He had a big part in the game.”

Johnson had a key putback with 9:04 left to stretch Nevada’s lead to 51-46 and then he knocked down two free throws to give the Pack a 58-49 advantage with 3:38 remaining.

STOPPING BELL

Nevada has done a sensational job the last two games against Fresno’s ultra-quick point guard Kevin Bell.

The Pack held Bell to a 5-for-20 effort in the Bulldogs’ 76-63 loss in Fresno on March 8, and the ‘Dogs point guard was only 4-for-20 on Thursday.

The credit goes to Lyndale Burleson and Armon Johnson, according to Fox.

“Lyndale is quick, and we were able to keep fresh people on him with Armon and Lyndale rotating,” Fox said. “Fresno State has great guards. Our backcourt was not great offensively, but we played great defense.”

Bell’s backcourt mate Eddie Miller had just 11 points, and Brandon Fields spent a lot of time chasing Miller around.

Fields and Johnson did struggle offensively. They combined to hit just 2-for-14 from the floor and scored a combined seven points.

A NEW SEASON

Nevada beat New Mexico State twice during the regular season, but NMSU coach Marvin Menzies said you can throw those two games out the window.

“It’s irrelevant,” Menzies said. “It’s another season. Everyone talks about three seasons, we’re in the postseason now. We’re 0-0 against them now. We’re confident that our guys will play well. Both teams will play hard. Both will be ready to play.”

Senior guard Fred Peete expects a tough battle with Marcelus Kemp, Armon Johnson and Brandon Fields.

“You’ve got to be ready to battle for 40 minutes,” Peete said. “You have to stay tough on them. They will knock down tough shots. It’s going to be a grind out.”

SAVING THOSE MINUTES

Winning a conference tournament is a grind. It takes three wins in three nights, so using your bench wisely is a key to success.

Nevada played a lot of people last year in its big quarterfinal win over Idaho. The Pack wasn’t able to do that this time around, as Marcelus Kemp (35), JaVale McGee (31) and Armon Johnson (34) all logged over 30 minutes, and Fields was at 29.

It’s a stat to keep an eye on in the next day or so.

BROOKS WALKS OUT

Idaho’s Jordan Brooks suffered through a 1-for-8 performance in the loss to New Mexico State.

Brooks and teammate Darin Nagle were at the podium when Brooks was asked a question about the game.

Brooks abruptly walked out, leaving Nagle at the podium.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t even do this,” Brooks said.

Brooks is known somewhat of a prima donna even by people at his own school.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281