Nevada still can’t shoot straight | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada still can’t shoot straight

Joe Santoro
For the Appeal

David Carter summed up his struggling Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team perfectly on Tuesday night.

“I can’t shoot for them,” the Wolf Pack head coach said after a 70-54 loss to the Utah State Aggies in front of a crowd of 5,318 at Lawlor Events Center. “We just have a lack of confidence on the offensive end.”

The Wolf Pack, who were coming off a demoralizing 98-42 loss at Colorado State last week, has now lost three games in a row to fall to 6-11 overall and 2-3 in the Mountain West. Utah State improved to 11-7, 4-2.

“We didn’t play hard enough and we didn’t make shots,” Pack point guard Marqueze Coleman said. “When you are not making shots, you can’t do anything.”

The Pack shot 35 percent (21-of-60) for the game and was just 2-of-18 on 3-pointers. They have gone 5-of-44 on 3-pointers in their current 3-game losing streak.

“We just couldn’t score,” Carter said. “We we’re getting open shots and guys just weren’t making them.”

Starters D.J. Fenner (1-of-11), Michael Perez (0-for-5) and Coleman (2-of-11) were a combined 3-of-27 from the floor. Perez is 2-of-16 during the three-game losing streak and Fenner is 6-of-28. Coleman had been productive offensively lately (28-of-53 over his last seven games) but suffered through his worst shooting night since he went 1-of-8 against California on Dec. 7.

“You can’t win a game that way, when your guards are 3-for-27,” Carter said.

“We need some more confidence,” Fenner said.

The Wolf Pack had a pair of brief one-point leads early (6-5 and 8-7) and trailed 29-19 at halftime.

It’s the third time this year and the second game in a row they failed to score as many as 20 points in the first half. Last week at Colorado State they were down 55-12 at the intermission.

“I thought we started the game with good energy,” Carter said.

The Pack also started the second half with good energy as A.J. West hit a free throw, Robyn Missa drilled a 10-foot jumper and Fenner converted a dunk to cut Utah State’s lead to just 29-24.

Utah State got a pair of threes from Jalen Moore to complete a 13-2 run and take a 42-26 lead with 15:11 to play.

The Pack hen went on a 12-2 run to slice the deficit to 44-38 with 12 minutes to go. Missa had a lay-up, Eric Cooper connected on a 3-pointer, Ronnie Stevens scored and Tyron Criswell had a lay-up and a 3-point play.

as the Pack scored 12 points in under three minutes.

The Wolf Pack also found themselves down just 50-45 after a 3-point play by West with 8:45 to play. They would get no closer.

“It went from 50-45 to 55-45 very quickly,” Carter said. “When that happened I knew we didn’t have anything left.”

It actually went from 50-45 to 60-45 quickly as the Aggies scored 10 points in just 1:37. Darius Perkins scored on a lay-up, Chris Smith and Moore drained 3-pointers and Elston Jones scored on a hook in the lane.

Moore was the difference in the game. The 6-foot-8 sophomore scored a game-high 22 points and made all four of his 3-pointers. In the first half he slashed his way to the basket for eight points and in the second half he burned the Pack with all four of his 3-pointers.

His 22 points and four 3-pointers equaled his season highs in both categories.

“It was a lack of concentration on defense,” Carter said.

West was the only consistent Pack player on offense. The 6-8 junior scored 18 points, converting 6-of-11 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He also had a game-high nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

“Their zone (defense) bothered me a little,” West said. “They definitely adjusted to what I was doing.”

There were times when West was the only Pack player scoring. He scored eight points in a row for the Pack early in the game to tie the score at 12-12. He also scored seven in a row to pull the Pack within 50-45.

“A.J. is our only consistent offensive player,” Carter said. “But he still needs someone to get him the ball. We can’t count on him to score 30 or 40 points.”

Carter says his team has regressed offensively over the last three games.

“We are going back to the way were in November,” said Carter, referring to a six-game stretch when the Pack failed to score as many as 60 points in a game. “We had three real good days of practice this week but when the lights go on (on game days) it’s different. We need to find the courage to make shots.”

The Wolf Pack will next play at Fresno State on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m.).

“Now it’s about how you respond,” Carter said. “I know this team can play well in a hostile environment (the Pack won at UNLV on Jan. 7). I know it’s in there. I’ve seen it.”