Forward Ronnie Stevens

Blake Miller /Nevada Sagebrush Forward Ronnie Stevens (33) goes up for a layup against California on Sunday, Dec. 6 at Lawlor Events Center. Stevens provided a spark off of the bench by recording eight points.

by Stone Harper

They say that defense wins championships. Unfortunately, even with a stellar defensive game, the Wolf Pack was unable to defeat California, falling to the Golden Bears 63-56, despite having the lead with five minutes left in the game.

Nevada was able to hold the Bears to 39 percent shooting from the field during the game and even took a 30-24 lead into halftime. However, during the second half, the Wolf Pack came out slow and California guard Tyrone Wallace was able to take the game over by scoring 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting just in the second half alone.

“I thought we played well the first half,” said Nevada head coach David Carter. “I think during the second half [California] took the tempo and the momentum and then at the end they had Wallace who really took over the game and I think he was really the difference.”

Wallace taking over the scoring load was enough to finish off Nevada. But it was the Wolf Pack’s struggling offense that was enough to keep the Golden Bears in the game.

“We get stops and we come down empty,” Carter said.  “We get pretty good looks, its not like defenses are doing anything different to take away our offense, but I think we are settling for shots that we should drive in on instead and missing easy one’s inside, so again it just comes down to making shots.”

The Wolf Pack shot a measly 33 percent from the field and was 1-8 from the three-point line. Although most of the Wolf Pack players were unable to get their shots to fall it was a particularly frustrating night for guard Marqueze Coleman.

Coleman, Nevada’s leading scorer, only managed to score four points, shooting 1-of-8 from the field and missing his only three-point shot of the game. Coleman did not practice the two days before the game because of a sprained ankle, which affected how he played during the game.

Coleman wasn’t the only man to struggle, as nine of Nevada’s 10 players were held under 10 points and shot 29 percent from the field.

“Our offense isn’t frustrating,” said senior guard Michael Perez. “It’s just something we have to put together as players and as a team, we have to find our identity on that side of the ball and figure out our roles.”

A bright spot on the team was junior AJ West, the only Wolf Pack player on the team to score double-digit points, as he totaled 13 points and also chipped in six rebounds and was a true rim protector, with three blocks.

The Wolf Pack also got solid play from their reserves with Tyron Criswell scoring six points, Ronnie Stevens scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds and Robyn Missa scored six points and grabbed a team high nine rebounds. However the reserves success did not carry over to the starters.

“Robyn Missa and Ronnie Stevens played really well,” Carter said. “They are both very comfortable coming in, but we need to build on it. We haven’t had consistency all year, one game two guys will play really well and the next game two new guys will play well. Once we get better consistency our scoring will go up.”

With the loss, Nevada’s losing streak extended to six games and is currently 2-6 on the season. Nevada will get a chance to work on its consistency when it hosts Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

“We were right there,” said West. “It kind of hurts but we just need to get better and we are looking forward to the next game.”

Stone Harper can be reached at sharper@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @StoneHarperNVSB.