Nevada falls to Fresno State
Appeal Sports Writer
FRESNO, Calif. – You can’t blame Nevada coach Mark Fox for feeling a sense of deja vu.
Back on Dec. 31, the Wolf Pack defense stumbled badly in an 89-80 loss to Saint Mary’s College, a game which saw the Gaels break it open with an 18-0 second-half run and ride a career-best 31 points by Brett Collins to victory.
On Wednesday night, Fresno State went on a 17-0 first-half run and rode Quinton Hosley’s career-high 35-point effort to an 87-77 win over the Pack before a crowd of 10,736 at the Save Mart Center .
And, Fox knows that offensively, the Pack played well enough to win many games. This one has to rest squarely with the defense.
“I’m not saying we couldn’t guard them, we just didn’t guard them,” Fox said after watching his team fall to 13-4 overall and 3-2 in conference play. “When the defense failed like it did tonight, you’re going to have a tough time winning.
“We need to know that even though we can score more baskets (this year), we won’t be a great team, We won’t be the team we’re capable of being.”
Blame it on Hosley, who was coming off a 1 for 14 effort against Louisiana Tech. Even though all five of Fresno State’s starters reached double figures, a first for the Bulldogs, it was Hosley who did the significant damage, draining 10 of 14 from the floor, including 5 for 8 from the 3-point line. He also knocked down 10 of 11 free throws.
“Hosley just wore us out,” Fox said. “We had no answer for him. I have to give him credit. He wasn’t the only guy going well. We just did not play very well defensively.”
Scoring wasn’t the only thing the 6-foot-6 Hosley did well. He had three steals, an assist and four blocked shots.
“You can’t help but think about the last game,” Hosley said. “The good thing about our sport is that you don’t have to wait a whole week to get out there; usually it’s just a few days. My teammates did a good job of finding me and getting the ball in the right spots.”
Despite Hosley’s barrage, Nevada didn’t go away, and continued to fight down to the end just like it did against Saint Mary’s thanks to the efforts of Kyle Shiloh, who led the Pack with a career-high 22 points, his third straight double-figure scoring game.
Fresno State led 79-65 with 2:18 left, only to see Nevada get the lead all the way down to seven, 82-75, with 57.5 remaining. Shiloh started the rally with a jump shot in the paint, and after Kevin Bell missed two free throws, Shiloh drilled a 3-pointer to make it 79-70 with 1:52 left. Fresno State turned the ball over on its ensuing possession, and Marcelus Kemp (16 points) hit one of two from the line to make it an eight-point game, 79-71.
Nevada converted another Fresno State turnover into a slam dunk by Mo Charlo to make it 82-75, and if you were a Pack fan, you thought just maybe the Pack might be able to pull off a miracle comeback. Fresno State turned the ball over again, and Nevada’s chances to cut deeper into the lead failed when Shiloh failed on a 3-point attempt. Fresno closed out the game with a 5-2 run.
Nevada, led by Nick Fazekas’ three quick baskets, hit 7 of its first 11 from the field for a 14-10 lead, but the pace appeared to be a little too fast for the Pack, though Fox said it wasn’t an issue.
The Pack went ice cold from the floor thereafter, hitting just 1 for their next 11. Fresno State went on to break the game open with a 17-0 run over a span of 7 minutes 27 seconds to take a 27-16 lead with 7:04 left.
“We came out a little flat,” said Fazekas, who was held to 17 points on 6 for 17 from the field. “We didn’t shoot real well (in the first half). It’s tough when you’re not getting stops defensively, because you don’t get fast break opportunities.”
Hosley started the surge with a slam, and the Bulldogs’ offense took off. Before the barrage ended, Hosley added two 3-pointers and Donovan Morris (12 points) added a driving layup and a steal/slam dunk.
Demarshay Johnson, who scored six first-half points and finished with a career-high 12, ended the Bulldogs’ run with 6:03 left, keying a 6-2 run which sliced Fresno’s lead to 29-22. Nevada could never get the deficit under seven points the rest of the half, and walked off the court trailing 36-28.
Nevada went 5 for 22 the final 15:45 of the half, and Fresno State went 11 for 22 in the same span.
Nevada played better offensively in the second half, shooting 47.4 from the floor, but the lack of stops enabled the Bulldogs to maintain a comfortable lead throughout.
“We had a dry spell (during the 17-0 run),” Fox said. “I think we were in better rhythm in the second half. We just couldn’t get back-to-back stops to get back into it.”
The teams played on even terms for the first 4:54 of the second half. Hector Hernandez (18 points) drove the lane, hit a bucket and drained a trey from the top of the key to vault the Bulldogs to a 46-34 lead, a 3-pointer by Kemp and a slam by Charlo sliced the lead back to seven, 46-39.
“We didn’t defend on the dribble very well, and when we were forced to help, he’s left open,” Fox said.
Fresno State went on a 12-2 run to open up a 58-41 advantage with 12:37 left. Ja’Vance Coleman, who was held to only 11 points by Shiloh, had a basket and two free throws, and Morris added two baskets.
Nevada valiantly tried to slice into the lead, and a 13-6 surge got it back to 64-54 with 5:39 remaining. From there, the teams traded baskets, and you can’t catch up doing that.
“We had to play well,” Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland said. “We had to play very, very well. We’re not going to beat a team like that unless we’re clicking on all cylinders. Tonight, we played a complete game.”