The Wolf Pack defeated Air Force 75-68 on Jan. 15 and improved to 8-6 overall, bouncing back from a loss to Boise State in their last game.
Nevada did not play their best game, but they were able pull out the win. Star junior guard Grant Sherfield continued his fantastic season as he finished with a game high 21 points. He went 7-17 from the field, shooting an impressive 4-8 from beyond the arc. He added two rebounds and three assists.
Junior forward Warren Washington had a solid performance with 12 points on 5-6 shooting and nine rebounds. Junior guard Kenan Blackshear had a great game, with 11 points on 4-8 shooting from the field adding six rebounds and two assists. Unfortunately, senior guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. did not have his best game, as he shot an uncharacteristic 3-11 on field goals and a lowly 1-7 from three. He did finish with seven points, two assists and two rebounds.
A bright spot for Nevada was production off the bench. Junior center Will Baker, who is usually in the starting rotation, brought an important spark off the bench. He shot 4-6 and finished with a double double as he ended with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Finally, sophomore guard Daniel Foster also contributed a nice stat line off the bench. He had an unconventional but interesting game, finishing with eight points, five assists and seven rebounds on zero shots. He did not log a shot attempt, but instead went 8-10 from the free throw line.
The game was competitive throughout, as both teams were playing hard from the tip off.
Blackshear opened up the scoring with a layup followed by buckets from sophomore forward Tre Coleman and junior forward K.J. Hymes. Air Force responded with baskets of their own as they took the lead 12-9 with 14 minutes left in the first half. Sherfield answered with back-to-back 3-pointers, and Foster added two free throws. Washington hit on a jumper, but Nevada would go on a three minute scoring drought until Sherfield connected on a jumper.
The score was 21-15 with eight minutes left in the first half. Baker began to get hot as he made two baskets and added a free throw. The Wolf Pack took advantage of Air Force’s excessive fouling as Foster knocked down five free throws in the final three minutes of the half. Sherfield connected on one more 3-pointer before the half was over. Nevada took a 34-27 lead into halftime.
The second half opened up with both teams trading baskets. Washington had a dunk and a layup and Blackshear hit on a jumper and a free throw. The score was 41-33 with 17 minutes left in the second half. Washington and Sherfield had a basket each, and then Nevada once again grew their lead through shooting from the charity stripe. Sherfield and Baker went a combined three for three from the free throw line and then added a bucket each. This made the score 52-41 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Nevada and Air Force traded buckets, which included two Cambridge jumpers and a 3-pointer. The teams continued to go back and forth as Nevada’s lead was slowly decreased to single digits. After an Air Force layup, the score was brought down to five. Nevada led 66-61 with 3:27 left in the game.
Sherfield once again showed his clutch scoring gene as he quickly answered with a 3-pointer. Washington responded with a layup and two free throws of his own, and Blackshear would officially ice the game with two additional free throws. Nevada used a solid team free throw shooting performance as they went 19-23 from the line to win the game. Nevada defeated Air Force 75-68.
The Wolf Pack are now 2-1 in Mountain West conference games. Hopefully, Nevada can build on this performance and find more success against other conference opponents. Nevada’s next game is against Wyoming at the Lawlor Events Center on Jan. 17.
Anthony Miranda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush