Nevada men improve vs. Seattle
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – One thing Nevada coach Mark Fox wants to see in his team is improvement from day to day and game to game.
The Wolf Pack improved dramatically in two areas – offensive rebounding and defense – and those two areas were decisive factors in Nevada’s 73-56 exhibition basketball win over Division II Seattle Pacific before a crowd of 2,803 Saturday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada pulled down 20 offensive rebounds en route to a 47-28 edge in that category, and then held Seattle Pacific to only one basket in the first 4 minutes 53 seconds of the second half.
“It was better than a week ago,” Fox said comparing last night’s win to the opening win over Dominican University. “We talked at the half about having the same level of intensity whether we’re down by five or up by 10. Last week we lost that sense of urgency once we got the lead.
“I would compare Seattle Pacific to Princeton. They play four perimeters players and shoot the ball extremely well. They’re a little smaller. We really dominated the boards early. I’m really pleased with the 20 offensive rebounds.”
As was the case last week against Dominican, a strong second-half start turned a close game into somewhat of a laugher.
Leading 39-31, Nevada scored the first nine points of the second half en route to an 11-2 run and a commanding 48-31 lead. Freshman guard Ramon Sessions (15 points, three assists) hit a leaner in the key, Nick Fazekas added a layup, and Kevinn Pinkney knocked down a free throw and Sessions hit two from the charity stripe to complete the run.
The Wolf Pack defense was the key, however, as the coaching staff made an adjustment to limit the three-point effectiveness of Seattle Pacific. Of the Falcons’ 28 first-half shots, 13 came from beyond the arc (5-for-13).
“We won’t play a team with that style,” Fox said. “I know we won’t in the WAC. We made a couple of minor adjustments. We tried to defend the three-point line first even to the point of leaving the basket open.”
“We tried to contest every shot,” added Pinkney.
The strategy worked. The Falcons got off only seven three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes, hitting just two of them.
Nevada put together a 7-0 run to stretch its lead to 61-40 with 9:34 left in the game. Jermaine Washington knocked down two free throws and hit a reverse layin and Pinkney scored in the paint to spark the onslaught, and Seattle Pacific never got closer than 13 the rest of the contest.
Pinkney played a much bigger role in this win. Besides his 14 points, he also pulled down nine rebounds and had three steals. And, the senior co-captain thinks the team is coming around.
“I was rushing my shots (last week),” Pinkney said. “My teammates were looking for me a lot tonight.
“We’re starting to jell. We’ve had some really hard practices, and guys are starting to take it to the next level. We played a little better tonight. We played just hard enough to win last week. Seattle Pacific is a really good team.”
The Falcons, thanks to 11 points by Jason Chivers, kept Nevada on their radar screen most of the first half. Nevada went on a 14-4 run to take a 31-23 lead with 4:33 left in the half. Back-to-back three-pointers by Fazekas and Kyle Shiloh plus a tremendous one-handed putback by Washington keyed the run.
Nevada maintained the eight-point lead the rest of the half before putting the game out of reach with the aforementioned 11-2 run to open the second half.
“I think offensively we were better tonight,” Sessions said. “That was a great team we played out there tonight.
“I got that first game out of the way. I felt a lot better (tonight). Last week was my first college game so I felt a little nervous.”
Chico State 81, Nevada 76
For the second time in as many games, the Division II Wildcats knocked off a Division I opponent. The Wildcats upset Pacific in their first outing of the season.
Nevada coach Kim Gervasoni wasn’t thrilled with the effort of her team.
“I thought we got outworked, out hustled and out rebounded (58-46),” she said. “We gave them too many transition shots and we turned the ball over way too much. It’s hard to win when you give up that many points.
“We stayed with things at the end and didn’t give up. We played with a lot of energy. I don’t want to take anything away from Chico State. They run their system very well and they have a good point guard (Kim Abts 25 points) and they know who to look for.”
It was a 53-51 game with 10:27 left, but Chico State went on a 15-6 run over the next five-plus minutes for a 68-57 lead. Lauren Himmelspach had six of her game-high 27 in that span and Haley Ford added five of her 13.
Nevada hung in gamely, but never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
Talisha Anderson and Jessica Preslar scored 14 points apiece. Preslar scored all 14 of her points in the first half and then was blanked the final 20 minutes and missed all four of her second-half attempts from the field. Amber Young scored 11 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and dished out six assists. Meghan McGuire reached double figures with 11 points.
Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1281.