Nevada men’s basketball beats Northern Iowa
Eric Coleman scored a game-high 18 points and Travis Brown added 12, but it was not enough, as a University of Northern Iowa rally fell just short in a 55-52 loss to Nevada Saturday afternoon at the McLeod Center.
Nevada had its largest lead of the second half, 46-32, with just over eight minutes remaining. But Brown hit a pair of three pointers during a 10-2 run that pulled the Panthers within 48-42 with 5:17 left. After Nevada’s Demarshay Johnson converted a conventional three-point play, Adam Koch scored and then Coleman recorded back-to-back layups to make the score 51-48 with 3:11 remaining.
Johnson made a pair of free throws to push the Wolf Pack back in front by five, but Coleman once again scored twice inside to pull the Panthers within one, 53-52, with just under a minute to go. After forcing a Nevada turnover, UNI got the ball back with 38 seconds left and worked for the winning shot.
Unable to get the ball inside to Coleman, Brown and Jared Josten both got jump shots off in the final seconds but each missed the mark. Marcelus Kemp made two free throws with one second left to make the final margin three points, as Josten’s desperation three-pointer fell just short.
UNI was ice cold to start the game, missing 10 of its first 12 shots as Nevada opened a 12-5 lead. The Wolf Pack pushed its lead to 20-9 after a Lyndale Burleson three-pointer, and held a double-digit lead the rest of the way until Coleman converted a three-point play to pull UNI within 29-20 with 1:35 left before halftime.
Brown hit a three-pointer as the first-half clock expired to pull Panthers within 31-23 at intermission. The Wolf Pack shot 50 percent in the opening 20 minutes (11-for-22), while UNI shot just 27 percent (9-for-33), including 2-for-11 on three-pointers.
For the game, Nevada shot 43 percent from the field (35 percent in the second half, including 0-for-5 on three-pointers), while UNI shot 32 percent. Kemp led Nevada with 13 points, while JaVale McGee had seven points, 12 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Nevada coach Mark Fox said McGee’s and Burleson’s play were a key to the win, especially in the first half.
“McGee and Burleson were huge factors in the game,” Fox said. “They both changed the game with their defense in the first half.”
But Coleman almost brought UNI back in the second half. “Coleman really dominated the game for a stretch there in the second half and it was because we had stopped playing defense before he caught the ball,” Fox said. “If he can’t catch it, he can’t score.”
Fox also praised UNI’s defense. “You have to give Northern Iowa credit,” he said. “That’s a good basketball team. We figured this would be a low-scoring game because UNI is such a good defensive team.”
UNI fell to 8-3 on the season, while Nevada extended its winning streak to five games and improved to 7-4.
Fox said Nevada has benefited from the BrackBuster series, which has pitted his team against UNI over the last two season.
“We get good games out of it, and we got one today against a team from a strong conference that is going to have a good season,” Fox said. “We’re big supporters of the BracketBusters series.”