Bighorns pull up short in loss to Jam
BY DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
RENO ” They came in droves to witness a little bit of history Saturday, and the evening was a great success until the final four minutes when the Reno Bighorns’ offense went AWOL.
The Bighorns, an expansion team in the NBA Developmental league, were called for back-to-back shot clock violations and managed just two free throws in the final two-plus minutes en route to a 98-93 loss to the Bakersfield Jam before a crowd of 4,336 at Reno Events Center.
It was a disappointing loss, but Bighorns coach Jay Humphries and former Nevada star Kyle Shiloh were impressed with the turnout for the first ever D-League game in Reno.
“I didn’t expect it (the big turnout),” Shiloh said. “It was great to see.”
Shiloh and former Nevada teammate Garry Hill-Thomas both received nice ovations from the crowd.
“It was great,” Reno coach Jay Humphries said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t pull it out for them.”
And the Bighorns might have been able to do that had it not been for their late-game meltdown, which started with the two violations.
The first one came with Reno leading 90-89, but it didn’t burn the Bighorns because Bakersfield’s Nick Lewis misfired at the other end. Reno came down again, and was unable to get off a shot, and Trey Johnson drained two free throws to give the Jam a 91-90 lead with 2 minutes, 39 seconds remaining.
“It took us out of our offense,” Humphries said. “We didn’t get shots up at critical times. (Sung-Yoon) Bang had a shot that he passed up. If he has it, I don’t mind him shooting it. Damone (Brown) didn’t have to pass. He saw that Bang was open and passed.”
“We weren’t getting into our offense as quick as we needed to,” said Reno power forward Antonio Meeking, who finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. “We picked it up, but you have to pick it up and keep it up.”
Reno’s Jesse Smith, who scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, tied the game at 91 with a free throw with 2:12 left. The teams traded free throws and the game was tied at 93 with 1:09 left.
Those would be the last points Reno would score, and the Jam drained five free throws down the stretch to win their second straight game of the young season. Meeking had a chance to tie the game at 95, but missed the layup.
Reno’s Sung-Yoon Bang had two good looks in the final minute, but couldn’t get a shot to go down.
This was a tight one throughout. In the first quarter, neither team led by more than five. The teams were tied at 29 after one.
The game was tied six times in the second quarter ” at 31, 33, 36, 46, 48 and 50.
The biggest lead belonged to the Bighorns, 46-40, but the Jam scored 11 of the last 17 points in the quarter to cut the Bighorns’ lead to 52-51 at the intermission. David Berghofer scored four of his 12 in the latter stages of the quarter. The second basket gave the Jam a short-lived 48-46 lead.
It was midway through the third quarter when Reno’s offense started to click.
With the game tied at 65, Reno went on a 10-2 run to take a 75-67 lead with 1:39 left in the third quarter.
Russell Robinson had a teal and layup, Brown drained a 3-pointer, Jamaal Thomas hit from the left corner and Brown hit a tough bank shot to make it 74-65. Derrick Byars ended the drought for the Jam, but Thomas made it 75-67 with a free throw.
The Jam scored six of the next eight points to trim Reno’s lead to 77-73 after three.
Bang knocked down two 3-pointers to boost the Bighorns’ lead to eight, 83-75, with 10:32 left in the game.
The Jam hung tough and finally pulled away after a 91-all tied after the second aforementioned shot clock violation.
“This was their second game, so they (the Jam) were able to get their first-game jitters out of the way already,” Shiloh said. “I’m proud. We showed that we could compete.”
– Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or (775) 881-1281