Charlo shakes up San Jose
RENO – No Kevinn Pinkney. No problem.
With Nevada’s senior co-captain sitting out the game with a slight ankle sprain, the rest of the Wolf Pack starting lineup stepped up and delivered big in a 70-55 win over San Jose State in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both schools Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada put four players in double figures – Mo Charlo led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double in a Wolf Pack uniform. Nick Fazekas followed with 16 points, Jermaine Washington 12 and Kyle Shiloh tied a career-high with 11.
It wasn’t just offense that put the Wolf Pack over the top. Nevada held San Jose State to a 34.4 shooting percentage from the field, the fourth straight time Nevada has held a team to under 35 percent shooting, and held a whopping 45-29 edge on the boards.
“I thought our defense played well (overall),” said first-year coach Mark Fox, who added that Pinkney could have played if needed. “I didn’t feel like we rebounded well in the first half. The first half I wasn’t pleased. We didn’t play with the fire that Kevinn brings.
“We have to spread it around (on offense). What pleased me again is that we shot 50 percent (actually 51) from the floor, and I didn’t think we played as well as we could have. We played harder in the second half. We valued every possession.”
That came as a result of a tongue-lashing from Fox at the half, according to Fazekas, whose play was limited to 24 minutes because of foul problems.
“We came out kind of soft in the first half and didn’t play like we needed to play,” Fazekas said. “Coach Fox was pretty ticked off, and the guys responded.”
Especially Charlo, who enjoyed his best game of the season.
San Jose State had cut the lead to 38-30 with 17:06 left in the game on a bucket by Michael McFadden, but then the Charlo-led Wolf Pack busted loose with a 17-5 run to take a 55-35 lead with 10:36 remaining.
Shiloh started the surge with a nice drive to the basket, and following a Spartan turnover, Washington scored off a Shiloh miss. SJSU’s Mark Fresby (10 points) retaliated from the paint, and then Charlo took control.
The 6-7 junior threw down a left-handed shot in the key, knocked down two foul shots after he wormed his way inside for an offensive rebound and hit again from the lane. Six points in 64 seconds. Alex Elam (17 points) ended the 10-2 run with a three-pointer, but Nevada came right back with seven straight points on a three-point play by Washington following an offensive rebound, another Charlo hoop and a lay-up by Shiloh.
Charlo credited defense for Nevada’s big second-half run.
“He’s getting more and more experience,” Fox said of Charlo. “Being able to relax and play with more intensity; being comfortable at that intensity level. He’s going to continue to get more and more comfortable.”
Charlo shrugged off his own accomplishments, saying defense was the key in the big second-half run.
“We played god defense,” he said. “We were able to get into early offense. Defense definitely got us going, and rebounding.”
San Jose State coach Phil Johnson said it was the latter. Nevada, despite not having Pinkney, had 12 offensive rebounds. He also was disappointed with Nevada’s 40-12 advantage in inside scoring.
“I felt like we were in it throughout most of the game,” Johnson said. “When it got away from us it was offensive putbacks. I thought there were five (offensive rebounds) that resulted in baskets (or free throws). The effort was there. They just overpowered us. We had a plan to take away Nevada’s inside game, but it wasn’t effective enough.
“Mo was huge all night. He’s quick and talented. I didn’t realize he was that quick.”
Fazekas went to the bench with his fourth foul shortly after the 17-5 run, and San Jose State cut the lead to 13, but five straight points by Shiloh and an outside jump shot by Seth Taylor boosted the lead back to 20, 62-42.
Nevada shot 50 percent in the first half, but had just a 32-26 lead at halftime to show for it, as Elam knocked down three trifectas and the Spartans’ leading scorer Marquin Chandler had 11 of his game-high 21 in that stretch.
Two of Elam’s threes and two buckets by Chandler helped San Jose State rebound from a 9-3 deficit and tie the game at 13. Nevada, thanks to Fazekas and Charlo went on a 17-7 surge for a 30-20 lead with 3:42 left in the half.
The Spartans closed out the half in impressive fashion, as Fresby hit a couple of nice shots from the inside and McFadden scored to cut the deficit to six.
That set the stage for Nevada’s impressive second half.
Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1281.