by Stone Harper
Valentine’s Day is dedicated to love, yet Nevada fans who attended the Wolf Pack’s Feb. 14 game against New Mexico experienced a few different emotions. Frustration, hope, anxiety and finally happiness were felt as the Wolf Pack was able to defeat the Lobos 66-63 in overtime.
“We overcame a lot,” said Nevada head coach David Carter. “We had a lot of turnovers, couldn’t score the ball against the zone and I told the guys to stay with it, keep grinding and the game is going to turn.”
In the first half, Nevada got off to a sluggish start. The Pack scored only 19 points while connecting on less than 25 percent of its shots from the field and a measly 10 percent from three-point range. New Mexico was able to build a 31-19 lead.
That’s when junior Marqueze Coleman took over for Nevada. The guard managed to score 21 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. This included the two free throws that gave Nevada its first lead at 57-56 with a little more than a minute left.
“I was just getting back into my groove,” said Coleman. “They were playing zone so I didn’t want to settle for jump shots so I kept attacking and it paid off for us.”
A layup by Tyron Criswell stretched Nevada’s lead to three with 1:23 left in the game. However, New Mexico guard Hugh Greenwood was able to make a three pointer with a minute left to tie the game and set up overtime between the two squads.
In overtime it was all Wolf Pack. It was able to outscore New Mexico 7-4 and gain its first victory inside Lawlor Events Center since Jan. 3.
Junior AJ West continued his great play. He was able to get his 11th double-double of the season when he scored 12 points and grabbed 17 rebounds which is one off of his career high. West was also able to be the great rim protector that he normally is. The conference leader in blocks per game was able to send back six shots against the Lobos.
“I thought [West] had a lot of energy defensively,” said Carter. “He was blocking shots, controlling the paint, I thought he did a good job on ball screens this game versus last game. It’s all about effort, you have to make the effort and he did a great job tonight.”
Perhaps West’s finest moment of the game, however, came as Nevada led 66-63. New Mexico had one chance to tie the game and send it into a second overtime, but West was able to chase down New Mexico guard Tim Jacobs and force an ill-advised shot. Jacobs did not convert the shot and victory was secured for the Wolf Pack.
“The last stop I switched onto somebody and knew I had to gut up and guard him,” said West. “We were fighting really hard trying to trap the guard and we did and it was a good play on the ball.”
The Wolf Pack has won two of its last four games and improves its record to 8-14 (4-8 MW).
Nevada will continue conference play on Tuesday when it hosts Wyoming in its second matchup of the season. The Wolf Pack will also travel to Boise, Idaho to take on streaking Boise State on Saturday in the team’s first matchup of the year.
“We were down 14,” said Carter. “We had to have a different game plan and if we could make some stops we could get back into the game. They could not let their defense slip and I think the guys were able to do that.”
Stone Harper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @StoneHarperNVSB.