Nevada fall to Pacific
RENO – You knew it had to end sometime. You knew Nevada would lose a home game at some point this season.
Pacific hit three clutch free throws in the final 23 seconds, two by Guillaume Yango, to knock off Nevada 72-69, Saturday night at Lawlor Events Center, snapping the Wolf Pack’s 18-game home winning streak.
The last Wolf Pack loss came to Tulsa, 79-73, back on March 8, 2003 in the regular-season finale. The streak was the eighth-longest in the nation.
“That’s a great team we faced,” Nevada point guard Ramon Sessions said. “That’s a tough loss. We just have to bounce back.
“You just can put your finger on one thing (for the loss). It’s hard to trade baskets with a great team. We have to play better defense.”
One thing you have to admire is Nevada’s grit.
The Wolf Pack battled back from a 20-7 first-half deficit to take a 36-34 lead. In the second half, Nevada was able to wipe out a nine-point second half lead to tie the game at 69 when Sessions picked up a Mo Charlo miss in the key and scored with 1:03 remaining.
Yango, who scored 12 of his 16 in the second half, knocked down two free throws after being fouled by Nick Fazekas to make it 71-69. Mark Fox, Nevada’s first-year head coach, drew up a play during the timeout but it didn’t come to fruition.
Instead of working the ball around and running the clock down, Kevinn Pinkney launched up a three-pointer that went off the iron. Pacific got the rebound, and guard David Doubley was fouled with three seconds left in the game. Doubley made the first shot to make it 72-69, but missed the second. Nevada’s Charlo rebounded the ball and called time with three seconds left.
After a series of timeouts, Pinkney threw a long pass down the left side of the court that went off Yango out of bounds. Bob Thomason felt the game should have been over at that point, but only one second had ticked off the clock.
The game was played without the regular scoreboard, which wasn’t working correctly, and an auxiliary one was used. So, there was still hope for the Wolf Pack, albeit it slim.
The ball was inbounded to Charlo (10 points), who fired up a three that bounced hard off the backboard as time expired, dropping Nevada to 4-3.
Fox said that the first option on Pinkney’s shot was to get the ball inside to Fazekas.
“It was the shot I wanted, but it wasn’t the play that was drawn up,” Pinkney said. “It (the ball) was supposed to go down in the paint. Emotions were running high and I shot it anyway. I would do the same thing again.”
“Kevin is a winner,” Fox said. “He felt like they had backed off him so he took the shot. It (the last play) was either him or Nick.”
And, the game shouldn’t have come down to one shot. Nevada put itself in a huge hole at the outset of the second half, allowing Pacific to go on a 15-2 run to take a 49-40 lead with 13:44 remaining in the contest. It took Nevada nearly 14 minutes before it could catch the Tigers, and that took a lot out of the Wolf Pack.
Matt Kemper, who played just one minute in the first half, drained a three-pointer and a two-pointer to lead the way. He was only in the game because Christian Maraker and Tyler Newton had picked up their third fouls.
“We came out flat,” said Fazekas, who finished with 17 points. “We didn’t come out and defend like we did in the first half. It’s tough to play out of a hole like that.”
Pacific knocked down 17 of 21 from the charity stripe and Nevada converted 11 of 17. Jermaine Washington missed two straight with the Wolf Pack trailing 67-63 with 4:12 left.
Nevada, thanks to six points by Charlo, five by Sessions and a three-point play by Fazekas (17 points) pulled to within 60-59. A three by Doubley and two free throws by Yango upped the lead to six, 65-59. Two buckets by Fazekas and one each by Jermaine Washington and Sessions tied the game, setting the stage for the wild finish.
“That’s as good as we can play,” Thomason said. “Those two runs (start of game and start of second half) gave us a chance to win the game. They are a tough team.
“I was disappointed in the first half. They got too many inside shots. The second half we did a better job with that.”
Thomason said he chewed on his post players at the intermission.
“They were almost non-existent,” he said. “They didn’t rebound or guard very well. We didn’t get one offensive rebound the entire first half.”
Conversely, Fox couldn’t have been happy with Nevada’s defense at the outset of the second half when the Tigers scored some easy buckets.
“There was six minutes of poor defense (during the game),” said Fox, who felt that and poor foul shooting cost Nevada (11 of 17 compared to 17 of 21). “We have a small margin of error. We can’t miss free throws. We have to play mistake-free basketball.”
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281.