Nevada doesn’t have shield versus Marvelle | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada doesn’t have shield versus Marvelle

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

RENO — Marvelle Harris put an end to the Nevada Wolf Pack’s winning streak almost by himself on Saturday.

The Fresno State junior scored a game-high 40 points as the Bulldogs held off the Wolf Pack 69-66 in front of an afternoon crowd of 5,310 at Lawlor Events Center.

“He’s a good player,” Wolf Pack guard Marqueze Coleman said. “He had a great game. But there’s no reason why he should have scored 40 points.”

Harris, who brought a 17.2 scoring average into the game, made 14-of-23 shots and almost single-handedly ended the Wolf Pack’s four-game wining streak. The 6-foot-4 Harris, from Rialto, Calif., scored 19 points in the first half, mainly on four 3-pointers, and then added 21 more in the second half, predominantly inside the arc and from the free throw line.

“In the first half he got in a good rhythm,” said coach David Carter, whose Wolf Pack lost for the first time in 33 days to fall to 6-9 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain West. “And once he got going it was hard to stop him, to be honest with you.”

Harris, whose previous career high was 30 points against UC Irvine on Nov. 8, 2013, had just four points in the first 12 minutes of the game. He caught fire, though, with 7:38 to go in the opening half when his first 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs (8-9, 3-1) a 21-15 lead.

Harris scored 15 points in a span of just 4:47 as Fresno opened up a 33-24 lead with 2:51 to go in the half. He drained four 3-pointers in under four minutes, giving the Bulldogs leads of 21-15, 26-15, 29-18 and 32-22.

“I’m not going to take anything away from him,” Coleman said. “But we have to come out and play better right from the start.”

The Wolf Pack, coming off an emotional 64-62 win at UNLV on Wednesday, clearly stumbled out of the gate against Fresno. The Bulldogs led 36-28 after the first 20 minutes as the Pack missed 6-of-7 3-pointers and was just 9-of-24 (38 percent) from the floor.

“We have to start faster than that,” said junior Tyron Criswell, who had 12 points off the bench.

The slow start frustrated and surprised Carter.

“I didn’t feel we had any energy at the start,” he said. “I don’t understand how you can come back home on a winning streak and come out that way and not be ready to play.”

The Wolf Pack, it seemed, didn’t become ready until Fresno State built a 53-40 lead after a dunk by Harris with 11:27 to play.

The Pack, led by West, went on a 16-3 run over the next seven-plus minutes to tie the game at 56-56 with 3:55 to go. West scored eight points during the run on three lay-ups and a dunk to light a fire under his teammates.

Eric Cooper fed Criswell for a lay-up as the Pack cut Fresno’s lead to just 55-53 with 5:03 to play. Cooper, who was just 1-of-7 from the floor, then connected for a 3-pointer with 3:55 to go to even the score at 56-56.

West finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks for his third double-double in a row. He had just four points, four rebounds and two blocks at halftime.

“It wasn’t just him,” said Carter of West’s sluggish first half. “It was the whole team.”

Emmanuel Owootoah broke the tie with a 3-pointer from the right corner as Fresno State took a 59-56 lead with 3:32 to go.

“That was a big shot,” Carter said.

“I thought that was the turning point of the game. We never got the momentum back after that.”

Owootoah finished with nine points.

“Harris was driving and we went over to help,” Carter said. “We didn’t lose him (Owootoah). That’s a shot we wanted them to take.”

The Wolf Pack then missed three shots in a row, two by Michael Perez and one by Cooper. Perez finished 0-for-5 from the floor and didn’t score a point in 28 minutes. He’s now 1-for-12 on 3-pointers over his last three games.

“It is becoming a mental thing with him now,” Carter said. “It’s kind of haunting him a little bit.”

Alex Davis broke free for a lay-up as Fresno took a 61-57 lead with 1:19 to play. Harris later converted a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left for a 64-58 Bulldogs lead.

The Pack, though, kept fighting back.

Coleman, though, struggled from the free throw line, making just 1-of-2 from the line three different times in the final 1:52. He cut Fresno’s lead to 59-57 with 1:52 to go, 62-58 with 30 seconds left and 68-66 with 3.9 seconds left.

Harris scored his 39th and 40th points of the game from the free throw line to give Fresno a 68-65 lead with 4.5 seconds to go. Paul Watson’s free throw gave the Bulldogs a 69-66 lead with three seconds left, giving the Pack once last desperation attempt to tie the game.

Fenner’s 3-pointer from half court, though, sailed wide of the basket.

“Our guys are going to fight and compete,” Carter said.

The Pack coach, though, just wishes they would do it for 40 minutes.

“You can be positive about the comeback,” Carter said. “But we have to play that way from the beginning. Moral victories just aren’t good enough.”

The Wolf Pack, now 5-3 at home, will play at Colorado State on Wednesday. Fresno State has now won three of its last four games against the Wolf Pack with all three wins coming at Lawlor Events Center.

“This kind of wipes out our road win (at UNLV),” Carter said, shaking his head. “We’re kind of back where we were before we won on the road.”