Nevada basketball beats Rockhurst
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Defense and rebounding.
Those were two things that Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox didn’t like in his team’s 77-69 exhibition victory over Division II Rockhurst University Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada returns to action Nov. 12 against Humboldt State, a team that knocked off Nevada two years ago. Tip-off for that game is 7:05 p.m.
Rockhurst, despite being decidedly smaller than Nevada, had a 34-33 adge on the boards, and Fox had to be steamed that the Hawks shot 50 percent in the second half to make a game of it.
“The defense was terrible and the rebounding was just as bad,” Fox said. “We have a chance to improve them. I’m glad we struggled. I think that got their attention. I can only tell them so many times.”
What did Fox like?
The second-year head coach liked the play of JC transfer Dennis Ikovlev, who scored 12 points, including two three-pointers in his 18-minute stint. He liked the rebounding of Demarshay Johnson, who had six rebounds, four points and two blocked shots. Mo Charlo, who only scored six points, contributed four assists and two blocks.
“Dennis can shoot the ball,” Fox said. “He shot the ball well. I got on him for turning down a shot (in the first half). He’s still not comfortable in the offense. Mo was very efficient. He didn’t have a turnover, and he didn’t try to do anything that wasn’t there.”
Neither Fox or Nick Fazekas, who led all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting, were surprised that Rockhurst put up such a scrappy effort.
“I don’t know that I’m surprised,” Fazekas said. “You’ve got to expect that. They come in here and think they have a chance to win, but deep down they know they don’t.”
“I’m not surprised,” Fox said. “They are well coached and they play hard.”
Bill O’Connor, Rockhurst’s veteran head coach, was impressed with Nevada and happy with his team’s effort.
“This was a great experience for us to get out and play in a great arena against a good team,” O’Connor said. “Fazekas is a great player. I think he’ll be really good (in the futuire).
“I wasn’t sure how we’d react. We could have folded the tent when it got to 12 or 14 points. They could have figured what’s the difference between that and losing by 24. They might have surprised themselves and Nevada.”
Fox may have complained about Nevada’s defense, but the Pack made some steals and blocked some shots leading to easy transition baskets in the first half.
Two steals and slams by Ramon Sessions, three-pointers by Ikovlev and Charlo enabled Nevada to go on an 18-5 run and take a 31-19 lead. Six of those points were generated off turnovers.
“Their defense caused some easy baskets,” O’Connor said. “That’s tough for us to make up plays like that.”
A 6-0 run midway in the second half enabled Nevada to build its biggest lead of the game, 52-37. Ikovlev knocked down four foul shots and Johnson had a layup. Thanks to two baskets by John Torson, Rockhurst cut the deficit to 54-48. Nevada came back with an 11-2 run to make it 65-50 with 6:19 left.
Rockhurst cut the deficit all the way down to 74-67 with less than a minute left on three-pointers by Kevin Martin and Aaron Hill before order was restored.
The game got a lot closer than it should have in the second half, as Fox subbed freely and because Nevada hit only 3 of 12 from the line in the last 2:51.