Nevada Wolf Pack beats UC Davis, 88-73
Joe Santoro: Pack’s passing paying off in victories
RENO — To start or not to start.
For Nevada junior Caleb Martin the question is a non-starter. He said he doesn’t care, and when you hear him say that you naturally believe him.
Martin came off the bench to score 22 points in 34 minutes to lead the Wolf Pack to an 88-73 nonconference win over UC Davis on Tuesday night before a crowd of 7,574 at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada improved to 10-2 overall and has now won 21 straight nonconference home games under coach Eric Musselman.
“Normally I start, but coach wanted me to come off the bench,” Martin said. “I am all right with that. I’ll do whatever I can do (to help). It doesn’t matter to me
“It is all about producing whether you get 25 minutes, 35 minutes or you get 2 minutes.”
And, Martin played a big role in the first half when he scored 15 points in 17 minutes, including eight in the final 5:10 when Nevada went on a game-changing 17-2 run to take a 42-27 lead at the half.
The Pack scored 11 straight on a three by Martin, two free throws by Kendall Stephens (16 points), a floater by Jordan Caroline (20 points), a lay-up by Stephens and a lay-up by Martin to make it 36-25.
After two free throws by AJ John, Elijah Foster and Caleb Martin combined for six points in the final 1:29.
The difference in the half was 3-point shooting. Davis was 1-for-9 and the Pack was 6-for-13. That is a 15-point differential right there.
“It (the scoring spurts) are quick in basketball,” Martin said. “You hit two or three 3s in a row. It hurts.”
It was encouraging to see Martin shoot well. He was a combined 5-for-22 in the loss to TCU and the win over Radford.
“Really good teams have spurts,” Musselman said. “You make a couple of 3s and get a couple of stops. There are three runs (in a basketball game). If you control two of them you are going to win.”
The Aggies went without a field goal in the final 5:10 of the half, going 0-for 8 from the floor and turning the ball over three times.
Chima Moneke had all 10 of his points in the first half on 5-for-7 shooting which kept the Aggies close for a while. He didn’t score in the second half and played just four minutes.
“We played a really good first half,” Musselman said. “We wanted to keep (TJ) Shorts and Moneke off the foul line, and we wanted to defend the 3. We did a great job.”
Shorts went 4-for-5 from the line and Moneke didn’t shoot a free throw; he entered Tuesday shooting nine a game. The Aggies shot 31 percent from beyond the arc, 10 percent less than their average.
Nevada forced UC Davis into 16 turnovers, 10 of those in the first half. Nevada scored 20 points off the mistakes.
“I felt it was important that we turn them over,” Musselman said. “We had to take advantage of our length.”
The 5-9 Shorts did cause Nevada some problems early in the second half. His ability to penetrate off the bounce opened the wings for some open shots.
A 12-5 run by the Aggies cut the lead to 56-44 with 13:35 left in the game. Shorts jump-started the surge with four points, and Delveion Jackson and Siler Schneider drained 3-balls.
That set the stage for Nevada’s second run. A 10-3 surge upped Nevada’s lead to 66-47 with 10:28 remaining.
Caroline kicked off the rally with a layup off a feed by Cody Martin, Stephens drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner, and then Caleb Martin had a steal and flush to make it 63-44.
Arell Henning stopped the bleeding momentarily with a 3-pointer, but Caroline converted a three-point play to make it a 19-point bulge.
Stephens, who had been averaging a little more than six points a contest through the first four home games, is 12 for 25 in the last two wins, including 8-for-20 from beyond the arc. He has four 3s or more in five of his last six games.
“I’m just going to continue to stay aggressive,” Stephens said. “Getting high quality shots.”