Nevada slowed down, still wins | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada slowed down, still wins

DARRELL MOODY

DAVIS, Calif. – UC Davis tried its best to slow the game down to a crawl, but that strategy only works when you hit a good percentage from the field.

The Wolf Pack forced the Aggies into a 34 percent effort en route to a 60-51 non- conference win Wednesday night at The Pavilion before a crowd of 1,189.

The win upped Nevada’s record to 7-3, identical to last year’s non-conference record. The Wolf Pack will be off until Dec. 26, and then start preparing for the conference opener against San Jose State on Dec. 30.

“Every win is difficult,” Nevada first-year head coach Mark Fox said. “This was a grinder. We don’t like to play that slow.

“I felt like we really guarded them after the first 12 minutes. They finally recognized it was going to be a possession-by-possession game. We started to recognize what they were running and adjusted defensively.”

It was the third straight game that Nevada has held an opponent to less than 35 percent. Florida Atlantic shot 24.6 from the floor and Eastern Illinois shot 31 percent.

“We struggled to shoot the ball (in the first half),” UC Davis coach Gary Stewart said. “It’s no secret we’re a perimeter team. Give Nevada credit, they got out and challenged us all night. Conversely we got some good looks, but we didn’t get them to drop. That’s going to happen.

“The pace of the second half was quicker than we wanted, but when Nevada stretched the lead, we had to look earlier for our shot.”

Stewart was referring to the early portion of the second half when Nevada got its transition game going and ran off nine of the first 11 points of the half to extend its lead to 29-20 with 15:43 left. Nick Fazekas (14 points) led the way with five points, while Kevinn Pinckney (18 points) and Mo Charlo added two points apiece.

“Anytime we get out and can run early offense, teams are going to be in trouble,” said Pinkney, who used his size and strength to record his eighth career double-double with a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds. “In the second half, we tried to do that a lot.”

The Wolf Pack couldn’t shake the pesky Aggies, who cut the lead to four points three different times. The last one was 36-32 on a basket by Thomas Juillerat with 11:09 left. The oft-maligned Kyle Shiloh stepped up and scored seven of Nevada’s next 11 points to boost the lead back to nine, 47-38, with 4:33 left. Shiloh had seven of his eight points in that span.

“Coach Fox said we better pick it up,” Shiloh said. “I tried to pick up the momentum of the game. Either this or Toledo is my best game of the season. I would probably say this one because we got a win.”

“Kyle played extremely well,” Fox said. “He’s playing outstanding defense which he’s done all season. He hit two buckets when we needed it. He’s been very unselfish.”

Fox also was impressed with Pinkney’s play. The 6-10 senior missed just one shot from the floor, and that was from the outside. He hit all seven of his chances in the paint.

“He had the size advantage, and he took advantage of it,” Fox said. “Kevinn played like a leader.”

The pace was slow in the first half, and that favored Davis.

It took a 7-3 run by Nevada to grab a 20-18 halftime lead, as Davis’ only score in the final 9:28 was a three-pointer by Phil Rasmussen (17 points).

“We were only one shot off from shooting 50 percent,” Fox said. “We did an absolutely terrible job rebounding the ball (15-15). We were too comfortable. We didn’t realize how hard it is to win on the road.”

The Aggies did a tremendous job on the offensive glass, grabbing seven rebounds. Many were on balls that they tipped to keep alive and recovered.

“We came out kind of slow,” said Fazekas. “We only shot 18 times. We took ourselves out.”

Indeed. Nevada may have shot 44 percent from the floor, but the Wolf Pack did a poor job of showing patience against the Aggies’ 2-3 zone defense.

“We were impatient a little bit; not much though,” Fox said. “There were a couple of shots we shouldn’t have taken.”

It paid off big time. Nevada hit 54 percent of its shots in the second half (12 for 22). That and defense made the difference.

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.