Pack brings smile to Carter’s face
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO — David Carter got the best Christmas present he could ask for Monday night.
“Now that we won, I’m going to get some sleep,” the Wolf Pack coach said after a 83-55 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd in front of an announced crowd of 4,738 at Lawlor Events Center. “I’ve been pretty grumpy the last few weeks.”
Carter will go to sleep over the next few days with visions of victories in his head for the first time in over a month. The win over Marshall broke an eight-game Wolf Pack losing streak and is their first win since beating Adams State on Nov. 17.
“It felt great just to have a lead like that and to be able to smile after the game,” senior guard Michael Perez said.
The 28-point victory is the Pack’s largest since a 29-point (96-67) victory over San Jose State on Jan. 9, 2010 in Carter’s first season as head coach. His only other victory in his career larger than Monday night’s was a 99-68 win over Tulsa on Dec. 23, 2009.
“I looked up at the scoreboard and was surprised we were that far ahead,” Carter said.
The Wolf Pack also set a season high for points scored in a game. Their previous high was in the win over Adams State.
“It’s been 35 days,” smiled point guard Marqueze Coleman. “It was just great to get some momentum back.”
That momentum, Carter said, actually started on Wednesday night in a 69-65 loss at Pacific. The Pack shot 63 percent from the floor in the second half in that game and actually wiped out a 20-point Pacific lead.
“The momentum from the Pacific game carried over to this game,” Perez said.
“We could have lost that game by 30,” said Carter of the loss at Pacific. “But we fought back and even took the lead. That showed a lot of character.”
It also showed that the Wolf Pack,which went six games in a row at one point during the losing streak without scoring as many as 60 points, could indeed put the ball in the basket.
The Pack came out in the first half against Marshall and made 16-of-30 shots (53 percent) from the floor and took a 38-30 halftime lead. A.J. West, who missed the Pacific game because of a sore heel, made 7-of-8 shots in the first half and scored 15 points.
West scored 13 consecutive Wolf Pack points in a span of just 3:37, turning a 15-13 lead into a 28-20 lead with 6:14 to go in the first half.
“I got a lot of easy touches around the rim,” West said.
West made it look easy, grabbing offensive rebounds and putting in lay-ups. He finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes.
“Having A.J. back was big for us,” Perez said.
The Wolf Pack blew the game open in the second half, going on a 16-4 run over the first six minutes after the break to take a 51-34 lead. Perez, who finished with 12 points, connected on a 3-pointer for a 42-32 lead. Robyn Missa made a couple of short jumpers and Coleman scored in the paint as the Pack took control. Tyron Criswell’s 3-pointer gave the Pack its 51-34 lead with a 3-pointer.
“We just really played well as a team at both ends of the floor,” West said.
“We shared the ball a lot,” said Coleman, who had 13 points, three assists and just one turnover in 19 minutes.
The Pack led by as many as 32 (77-45) after a layup by Ronnie Stevens with 4:24 to play.
Carter was also able to empty his bench in the final 14 minutes of the game. Patrick Conroy made his season debut and had two assists in two minutes. Stelios Papafloratos, who had played just five minutes all year, played six minutes and had an assist.
All 13 players on the roster got into the game and all 13 either scored, had an assist or pulled down a rebound.
“Those guys work just as hard as the starters,” Perez said.
Marshall did its part to help the Pack break its losing streak. The Thundering Herd, now 4-8 on the year, shot just 26 percent (17-of-66) from the floor and missed 23 of their 28 3-point attempts. And when the Herd missed, they didn’t crash the boards. The Wolf Pack won the rebounding battle 59-35.
“We were able to get a lot of easy baskets in transition,” Coleman said. “Transition is one of our strengths.”
The Wolf Pack is hoping the momentum from Monday carries over to its next game on Sunday (3:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center against Northwest Christian.
“Personally, I’m not satisfied,” West said. “It’s just one game.”
That was also Carter’s message to his players after the game.
“It’s exciting to win and it helps build confidence,” Carter said. “But in reality it’s just one game.”