No. 7 Pack uses three-point shooting to beat Pacific 83-61
RENO — There is just something about the Pacific Tigers that brings out the best in the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 3-point shooting.
The Wolf Pack connected on 15 threes on Friday night to steamroll the Tigers 83-61 in front of a crowd of 10,561 at Lawlor Events Center. The school record for threes in a game is 17, set a year ago in an 89-74 Wolf Pack victory over Pacific in Stockton, Calif.
“I didn’t know we were that close to the school record,” Pack coach Eric Musselman said. “If somebody would have told me I would have had them launch a few more.”
The Wolf Pack had more than enough 3-pointers to run away from the Tigers. Caleb Martin led the way with five followed by Jazz Johnson and Tre’Shawn Thurman, who each had three. Cody Martin and Jordan Caroline each chipped in with two.
“Our 3-point shooting altered and changed the game,” Musselman said.
The Wolf Pack began the season by missing 11-of-12 3-pointers in the first half of its season-opening 86-70 win over BYU on Tuesday. Since then the Pack has gone 22-of-47. The Pack was 15-of-31 from beyond the arc against the Tigers (32-of-65 over the past two years).
“I’m not surprised these guys are making those shots,” said Wolf Pack point guard Cody Martin, who had 11 points and 10 assists. “They are getting in the right spots and making shots. I’m not getting those assists without those guys.”
The Wolf Pack was just a combined 13-of-55 on threes in its two exhibition games against Washington and San Francisco State. Couple that with the 1-for-12 showing in the first half against BYU and there was some concern about the Pack’s ability to hit shots from long distance.
Musselman, though, wasn’t concerned.
“The three ball, I knew it was just going to be a matter of time before they started dropping,” Musselman said.
Thurman made his first four 3-point attempts this season (one against BYU and three against Pacific) before finally missing in the second half on Friday.
“We were struggling with the three,” said Thurman, who finished with 14 points. “A lot of people in the media were saying we weren’t shooting threes like we did last year. But we never worried about it.”
The Pack had seven threes in the first half while building a 34-25 lead against Pacific and followed that with eight more in the second half when they blew the game open. It was Caleb Martin who set the pace in the second half, making all five of his 3-pointers after the break.
“Maybe next Friday (when the Pack plays Little Rock at home) I won’t play Caleb in the first half,” joked Musselman.
Martin, it seems, simply needs 20 minutes of basketball to warm up.
The 6-foot-7 senior scored a game-high 22 points against the Tigers, all in the second half. Martin’s performance against the Tigers was almost an exact copy of what he did three night’s earlier in the Pack’s victory over BYU when all 21 of his points also came in the second half.
“I just think he is trying to get other guys involved in the first half,” Musselman said.
In the first half against BYU and Pacific, Martin has scored no points and has missed all nine of his shots, five from 3-point range. In the second half of both games Martin scored 43 points and was 10-of-19 from the floor and 8-of-16 on threes.
“I guess he’s just being less aggressive in the first half and also he’s just kind of feeling things out,” said Martin’s twin brother Cody. “He always has confidence that he can score. He knows he’s going to get his touches. It’s just a good thing that he gets everybody involved to start the game.”
Caleb Martin, like he did against BYU, took over the Pacific game in the second half.
His first 3-pointer gave the Pack a 42-29 lad with just under 17 minutes to play. His second three put the Pack up 49-33 three minutes later. His third 3-pointer gave the Pack a 61-43 lead with 10 minutes left. His fourth gave the Pack a 69-45 lead two minutes later and his fifth and final shot from downtown made the score 82-57 with 3:39 to go. He was also 5-for-5 from the free throw line in the second half.
Martin, though, wasn’t the only one scoring in the second half. The Pack outscored the Tigers 49-36 in the final 20 minutes, breaking open a relatively close game (34-25 Nevada) at the half.
Martin’s first 3-pointer was part of a 10-0 run that allowed the Wolf Pack to take control of the game. Jordan Caroline, who had 16 points, scored seven of the 10 points during the run as the Pack took a 44-29 lead with 16 minutes to go.
Caroline also had a 3-pointer for a 53-35 lead with 12;39 left and a pair of free throws as the Pack took a 57-40 lead with 11 minutes to go.
“Our chemistry, the way we’re moving the ball, has been great,” Thurman said. “We can still do better but our chemistry has been much sharper lately.”
It was Johnson who started the Pack party from beyond the arc with a pair of threes less than a minute apart to give the Pack an early 9-5 lead. Johnson, who had three threes in the second half of Tuesday’s win over BYU, found the bottom of the net from the top of the circle and from the right corner.
Cody Martin and Thurman took over the Pack’s 3-point shooting responsibilities over the final 10 minutes of the opening half. Cody Martin who did not score at all against BYU, drained a 3-pointer for a 14-12 Pack lead with 10:39 to go in the half and did it again from the left corner for a 27-21 lead with 4:21 to go. He finished with eight points in the first half.
Thurman hit all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half against Pacific. He gave the Pack a 17-12 lead with 9:21 to go, a 22-14 lead with 7:15 left and a 30-21 advantage with 2:35 left in the half. His nine points led the Pack at halftime.
The Wolf Pack, now 45-5 at home under Musselman and 23-0 in non-league home games, has led for over 65 of the 80 minutes in its first two games this season. The Tigers took just three slim leads on Friday, all in the first half on a 3-pointer by Jeremiah Bailey (3-2), a jumper by Roberto Gallinat (5-3) and a jumper by Lafayette Dorsey (12-11 with 11:30 to go in the half). Cody Martin’s first 3-pointer of the game, though, wiped out that 12-11 Pacific lead a minute later and the Pack never trailed again the rest of the game.
Pacific has now lost four games in a row to the Wolf Pack, all while Musselman has been the Pack coach the last three-plus seasons. The Tigers, though, still lead the 104-year-old rivalry, 55-49.
The Wolf Pack will now take a week off before hosting Little Rock on Nov. 16 and Cal Baptist on Nov. 19 at Lawlor Events Center.