Nevada basketball wins opener | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada basketball wins opener

RENO – Nick Fazekas makes no bones about it. He’s comfortable in the spotlight.

The spotlight shined for real on Fazekas and the 22nd-ranked Wolf Pack Saturday night, and Fazekas responded with 28 points and 14 rebounds in an 82-74 season-opening victory over Sacramento State before a crowd of 7,685 fans at Lawlor Events Center.

It was Fazekas’ 24th double-double of his career and the 53rd time he’s reached double figures. He hit 10 of 15 from the floor and five of his 14 rebounds came at the offensive end.

“I get excited when the lights go on, and it’s a real game,” Fazekas said. “It means a lot more than just going out and playing.

“I thought we looked good; better than in the exhibition games. I thought our overall performance was pretty good. Once we matched their energy, we kind of took it over.”

That took about 12 minutes to do. The Hornets scored nine of the game’s first 11 points and hit 7 of their first 11 from the field en route to a 22-17 lead with 11:02 left in the half.

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Led by Fazekas, Nevada went on a 10-0 run for a 27-22. Ramon Sessions, who only played 14 minutes, started the surge with a driving layup. Fazekas scored on a tip-in and putback off a Denis Ikovlev miss to give Nevada its first lead, 23-22, with 7:07 left. After Chad Bell (11 points, 7 rebounds) sank a free throw, Fazekas got another putback. Bell finished the run with another free throw.

The Hornets bounced back with a 7-2 surge for a 30-29 lead, but two free throws apiece by Fazekas and Bell gave Nevada a 33-30 halftime lead.

Fazekas said the slow start for the second straight game didn’t bother the Pack.

“We have a lot of offense, and we have the offensive power to dig ourselves out of a hole,” he said. “We just didn’t come out playing hard on defense the way we should. We didn’t have a lot of energy and they had us down a little bit.”

And like they did against Humboldt State last week, the Wolf Pack broke the game open in the second half with a 25-5 run over the first 9 1/2 minutes to take their biggest lead of the game, 58-35.

Fazekas, Bell and Charlo (11 points, 6 rebounds) keyed that run. Fazekas opened the second half with a score, and Bell followed with five straight points to make it 38-30. Fazekas took a nice pass from Charlo to drop in a layup, increasing the lead to 10. After two free throws by Alex Bausley, Nevada scored 10 straight to make it 50-32 with 13:56 remaining, capping a 17-2 run.

“That actually started with 12 minutes to go in the first half,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “They were on a pace to score 100 points eight minutes into the game. After that, I think they only scored 10 points in the last 12 minutes (of the half).”

The Hornets helped out by turning the ball over and going cold from the field, and you can’t do that against a team like Nevada.

Did Sacramento State coach Jerome Jenkins like his team’s shot selection?

“Not at all,” he said. “We need to talk about it. It was like we were content just being in the ballgame. We have a lot to learn.”

The 23-point cushion should have been enough, but Nevada got too relaxed and way too sloppy, and the Hornets didn’t go away.

Sacramento State chopped the lead down to seven two different times – 66-59 and 70-63 – thanks to some sensational outside shooting by Bausley, who led the Hornets with 28 points on 9 for 20 from the field, including six 3-pointers.

Bausley hit a deuce and a trey to make it 64-55 and DaShawn Freeman knocked down a free throw to make it 64-56. After Fazekas scored, Bausley came back with another 3-pointer to make it 66-59.

Sacramento State never got closer than seven the rest of the way. Marcelus Kemp scored nine of his 15 points in the final 3:15 to keep the Pack from being stung down the stretch.

The comeback didn’t surprise Jenkins.

“We’re very resilient,” Jenkins said. “There are a lot of guys here that would jump off the cliff for me. I thought we would come back the whole time.”

Fox wasn’t pleased with the Pack’s play with the big lead, but he didn’t belabor the point after the game.

“The rhythm of the game … we grabbed a lead and didn’t play well,” Fox said. “They hit a couple of 3s. We have to rebound better, defend better and make better decisions. That led to our poor passing. We’re not a very good passing team right now.

“We played well for an extended period of time (the big run in the latter stages of the first half and to start the second). We didn’t play like I want us to play.”