Nevada wins second straight WAC game, 71-61 over Boise State
RENO — In the most offensive display of offense this season at Lawlor Events Center, Boise State was just a tad worse.
Nevada, which had one stretch where it made only three field goals in 17 minutes, overcame a 37 percent shooting night to beat the Broncos 71-61 on Saturday in front of 6,028 fans.
“I don’t think we played well for 40 minutes,” said guard Terrance Green, who scored 12 points. “I thought we played well for like 70 percent of the game.”
The Wolf Pack (7-7 overall, 2-2 WAC) led by 17 points on two occasions in the first half. After falling behind 8-2 to start the game, Nevada outscored Boise State 27-4 over the next 7 1/2 minutes to take a 29-12 lead. The Broncos made it 29-19 after a Solomon Watts basket, then the Wolf Pack again went back up 17 after Dean Browne’s dunk with 5:43 left in the half made it 36-19.
“The beginning part of the game we started off really good, then faded away,” said Kirk Snyder. “The end of the first half was bad.
The Wolf Pack were cruising along, shooting over 50 percent from the field, while Boise State was just trying to find the rim. The Broncos were shooting just 24 percent, which explained the 17-point deficit. Somehow, though, they outscored Nevada 17-2 before halftime as they trailed 38-36 at the break.
“With this group, what worries me is we get a lead and we think the other team is going to get on the bus and go home,” said coach Trent Johnson.
Garry Hill-Thomas came out in the second half and scored two of Nevada’s first three baskets, including a missed opportunity for a three-point play, as the Wolf Pack led 44-38. After Boise State cut Nevada’s led to 44-43, then Green made a 3-pointer to make it 47-43.
“We wanted to come out (hard) the first possession,” Snyder said. “Garry Hill Thomas came out and got an ‘And-1.’ That kind of set the tone.”
It couldn’t have been a beneficial tone because over the next eight minutes Nevada didn’t score a field goal. That was just enough time to allow the Broncos, who shot only 38 percent from the field in the game, back into it.
Joe Skiffer tied it at 48 with his basket 11:49 left in the game, then Aaron Haynes made a pair of free throws that gave Boise State its first lead in almost 25 minutes, 50-48. Skiffer finished with eight points. Haynes and Jason Ellis each had 12 more in the loss.
“They made a run and tied the game and we didn’t panic down the stretch,” Johnson said. “We kept our composure and managed to win. In the first half, I thought we defended the ball better and we got some transition baskets. Second half I thought they did a really good job of taking away a lot of our stuff. Then we had to make some adjustments.”
When Hill-Thomas tied the game at 55 with 7:19 left in the game, it was the first Nevada field goal since the 16:48 mark. If poor shooting wasn’t enough to do Boise State in, an unexpected barrage of points from Browne was.
The 6-foot-9 junior forward, who came into the game averaging just 4.8 ppg, scored the Wolf Pack’s next seven points in the midst of a 12-1 run that put Nevada up 65-56.
“I was just having fun, that’s all I can really say,” said Browne, who had 11 rebounds and 11 points, one shy of his career high. “I was just trying to let it come to me.”
Obviously Nevada’s offensive lapses weren’t embarrassing enough because the Broncos (8-6, 2-2) weren’t going to be outdone. Haynes’ basket with 7:45 left in the game gave his team their final lead, 55-53. That was the last field goal of the game for Boise State, which went 10-of-15 from the free throw line in the second half just to give itself a chance.
“At certain times we didn’t look too good,” Snyder said. “But we got the ‘W’. It’s just a learning process. That’s all you can really say about this. We gotta’ learn how to play for 40 minutes. I think that will come. Anytime you have a team down you want to put the nail in the coffin.”
Boise State got within six points, 65-59, but the Wolf Pack made 9-of-10 free throws in the final four minutes of the game. Snyder scored 15 points, which keeps him as the only Nevada player to score in double figures every game this season. Hill-Thomas had 13 more for the Wolf Pack, who now goes on the road where they are 1-6 next week against Louisiana Tech and Southern Methodist.