The Nevada Wolf Pack Men’s basketball team notched a hard-fought 70-66 overtime victory against No. 24 San Diego State in an exhilarating home game on Feb. 9. With the win, Nevada moves to fifth place in the Mountain West, carrying a record of 19-5 overall and 6-4 in conference play.
For the first time in men’s basketball history, Nevada has beaten ranked opponents.
The Wolf Pack offense was jump started by Jarod Lucas, Nevada guard, who knocked down back-to-back three-pointers that gave the Wolf Pack a 6-0 lead in the opening two minutes. Both teams would miss their next shots, until Lamont Butler, San Diego State guard, hit a three-pointer to make it a one-possession game with 17:21 to play.
Nevada went on a 4-0 run, with 12:57 remaining, as both teams struggled to make shots. The Wolf Pack defense was showing out, limiting the Aztecs to one made shot, which led to four turnovers.
Following a free throw to break the Aztecs scoring drought, Micah Parrish, San Diego State guard, nailed a three pointer to put the pressure back on the Wolf Pack, who held on to a 10-7 lead with 10:37 left on the clock.
Both sides would trade buckets, before Lucas began to heat up in the final few minutes, hitting two consecutive jumpers to help the Wolf Pack take a two-possession lead.
Both teams traded baskets before the break, as Nevada would take a 30-27 lead into halftime. Lucas had 12 first-half points on 4-6 shooting to lead the Wolf Pack.
The scoring immediately picked back up in the second half, as Jaedon Ledee, San Diego State forward, hit a jumper to cut Nevada’s lead to 30-29 early.
Every time the Aztecs had a chance to tie the game or take the lead, the Wolf Pack answered right back. The Pack went on a 16-13 run during this time, slightly increasing their lead to 46-42 with 8:04 to go.
A foul from Tyler Rolison, Nevada guard, allowed the Aztecs to cut the lead to 46-44. On the Aztecs’ next possession, Darrion Trammell, San Diego State guard, hit a jumper to tie the game at 46-46 with 6:46 remaining.
After both teams connected on their next two field goals, Blackshear hit a layup to give the Wolf Pack a 52-50 lead with 4:11 on the clock. The Aztecs would respond with their own layup, but a foul from KJ Hymes, Nevada forward, allowed them to shoot a free throw, giving San Diego State its first lead 53-52 at 3:47 left.
An exchange of free throws kept the Wolf Pack trailing 55-54, until Trammell hit a jumper to extend the Aztecs’ lead 57-54 with 1:37 remaining on the clock.
The Wolf Pack would go on a late 4-2 run to get back within a single point at 59-58 with 36 seconds to go. With time running low, Nevada was forced to foul, and the team fouled Ledee. Ledee made one of his two shots, giving the Wolf Pack a chance down two with 24 seconds left.
Blackshear led the play, but missed a contested jumper with only 0:11 left. However, Nick Davidson, Nevada forward, snagged the offensive rebound and made a layup to tie the game. He was also fouled in the process, but missed it, sending the game into overtime.
The Wolf Pack opened overtime with Davidson committing a foul against Ledee, giving the Aztecs an early 62-60 advantage. Lucas, who had not shot the ball since the 14:55 mark in the second half, missed a mid-range jumper right after. Micah Parrish, San Diego State guard, grabbed the rebound and hit Ledee in stride, who made a jumper of his own, putting the Wolf Pack down 64-60 with 3:52 left.
With momentum drifting to San Diego State, Daniel Foster, Nevada forward, found Blackshear for a contested layup, cutting the lead down to one score.
On the ensuing possession, the Aztecs’ Ledee tried passing the ball to an open man. However, Tre Coleman, Nevada forward, jumped the pass, stole the ball and kicked it back out to Blackshear for another layup to tie the game at 64-64 with 3:04 to go.
Following a missed three-pointer from San Diego State, Blackshear would keep his hot streak going, hitting a long jumper to give the Wolf Pack a 66-64 lead, before Lucas committed a foul letting the Aztecs tie the game 66-66 with 2:02 remaining.
The Aztecs’ Parrish would miss a go-ahead three with 39 seconds left. Lucas grabbed the defensive rebound and pitched it out to Blackshear. The Aztec defense blanketed Blackshear, who was able to find Coleman for an open pass. With 12 seconds left on the clock, Coleman made the contested layup to give the Wolf Pack a 68-66 lead.
San Diego State could not get a shot off to end the game, as Nevada would hang on for a 70-66 win.
In a game where points were hard to come by, Blackshear led the way for the Wolf Pack. He scored 22 points on 8-15 shooting, with eight of those points coming in overtime to put away the Aztecs.
The dramatic finish drowned out the Wolf Pack miscues that prevented them from winning in regulation. Turnovers were a concern, with 16 on the night compared to their season average of nine. Nevada made 59% of their free throws, shooting 19-32, lower than their season average of 71%. Three-pointers were hard to come by after Lucas’ first two makes, as the team shot 23% on 3-13 shooting compared to their season average of 35%.
“You’ve got the #1 and #2 ranked defenses in the Mountain West going at it tonight,” Steve Alford, head coach of the Nevada men’s basketball team, said in a press conference after the game. “It was a defensive battle. Every shot was contested, it was hard fought.”
Alford gave credit to Coleman for continuing to fight when shots weren’t landing.
“Tre doesn’t get near the credit he deserves for how good a defender he is,” Alford said. “He always guards well, even if he doesn’t have a great shooting night. He was 1-9 when he made the biggest shot of the night, which shows how much he has matured.”
Coleman voiced his appreciation of the confidence Nevada had in him on the final shot in a press conference after the bout.
“The play wasn’t drawn up for me,” Coleman said. “I had missed my last 5 shots. It shows Kenan’s trust in me and our trust throughout the team, and that last play shows who we are.”
The Wolf Pack’s next challenge will come at home, where they will take on the No. 25 New Mexico Lobos (19-4, 7-3 MWC) on Feb. 13 at 8 p.m.
James Wolfgang Perez can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JamesWPerezUNR