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Chase Dulude / Nevada Sagebrush

The Nevada men’s basketball team took care of business on March 1, defeating the Fresno State Bulldogs at home 74-66. The win moves the Wolf Pack into third place in the Mountain West Conference, with an overall record of 24-6 and a conference record of 11-5.

Isaiah Hill, Fresno State guard, opened the scoring as he moved around the Wolf Pack defense for a corner three. However, Jarod Lucas, Nevada guard, quickly responded and converted on a contested jumper to get the Pack on the board. 

The Bulldogs took advantage of two Wolf Pack fouls, with Jalen Weaver, Fresno State guard, hitting a jumper of his own to cap off a 4-0 run that saw the Pack fall behind 7-2 with 16:11 in the first.

Down two possessions, the Wolf Pack needed an answer. Lucas sank another jumper, and his hot start continued on the defensive side. Lucas stole the ball from Leo Colimerio, Fresno State guard. Nick Davidson, Nevada forward, was found on the next play, putting up a layup to cut the deficit to one. Hunter McIntosh, Nevada guard, joined the scoring, as he knocked down the Pack’s first triple to give them the lead at 9-7 with 14:20 remaining. 

Despite a poor start, momentum had shifted the Wolf Pack’s way. Daniel Foster, Nevada guard, splashed his first triple, and Tre Coleman and Tylan Pope, Nevada forwards, got on the stat sheet with two jumpers each. The Pack finished off a 14-2 run, as they led 23-9 with 9:01 left.

Both teams exchanged scores over a sequence that saw Tyler Rolison, Nevada guard, space the defense for an open-look three. Lucas rimmed in his second three-pointer of the game, as the Wolf Pack held a 13 point lead at 31-18 with 5:26 to play.

After trading points, Isaac Tavares, Fresno State guard drove into the paint before getting fouled. Tavares bricked both free throws, which allowed Davidson to snag the rebound and find Rolison, who stormed down the court. Rolison forced a foul and sank two free throws to close out the half. 

Davidson and Lucas led the Pack with nine points each, as the team maintained a 13 point halftime lead at 37-24.

Out of the break, Nevada did not miss a beat, as Davidson connected on an open three to start the second half.

Despite being down 16 points, the Bulldogs continued to fight. Xavier Dusell, Fresno State guard, knocked down back-to-back triples and Colimerio put in a layup, which cut Nevada’s lead to 10 at 42-32 as 17:08 remained.

As the Bulldogs found new life in the second half, the Wolf Pack needed to match their intensity. Lucas splashed his third three-pointer on Nevada’s next possession. McIntosh followed Lucas up on the next two possessions, draining back-to-back threes. The Pack bolstered their lead back to 16 points at 54-38 with 13:52 left.

After Hill connected on a three-pointer to cut it to a 12 point game, Lucas countered, as he rattled in his fourth three-pointer of the game. Rolison aided Lucas’ efforts, as he spaced out Isaiah Pope, Fresno State guard, for a step-back turnaround jumper. Nevada built a 17 point lead at 64-47 as 8:07 remained.

The Bulldogs did go on a late scoring run where they knocked down two threes and outscored the Pack 19-10. However, the game was never in doubt as the clock winded down, as Nevada secured their 24th win of the season with a 74-66. 

Every player scored for the Pack, as Lucas picked up where he left off after the buzzer-beater win at Colorado State, tallying a game-high 21 points on 7-12 shooting in the victory over Fresno State. Davidson, held without a field goal in the previous game, responded with 19 points and six rebounds. McIntosh, in his second straight start, scored in double figures yet again as he pitched in 12 points after going 4-7 from three. 

Nevada is on a hot streak, with eight wins in their last nine games after their season sweep over Fresno State.

“There’s a maturity about our team this year that’s really good.” Steve Alford, head coach of the Nevada men’s basketball team, said in a press conference after the game. “We had a little bit of a letdown with our maturity in the second half, but we grinded it out and found a way through it. Our biggest thing is to get rest and get healthy and go to Boise as full strength as we can.”

The Wolf Pack’s next challenge will come on the road, as they travel to Boise, Idaho to take on the Boise State Broncos (20-8, 11-4 MWC) on March 5 at 8 p.m.

James Wolfgang Perez can be reached via email or via Twitter @JamesWPerezUNR

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