A late Nevada Wolf Pack rally fueled their 81-72 win over the San Jose State Spartans on Tuesday, giving Nevada its first two-game winning streak since winning five in a row Nov. 23 to December 18.
In the first of a back-to-back against each other, the two programs scrambled for the lead for most of the second half after SJSU – who went 0-12 in the MWC game – controlled most of the first 20 games of the game. minutes. Nevada trailed by just one – 65-64 – with 6:25 remaining.
The Pack collected five points in a row before Alvaro Cardenas’ disputed 3-point corner – moments before the shot clock expired – cut it back to one with 4:26 remaining. Nevada center Will Baker, who finished with a team-high 23 points, broke through the Spartan defense, sinking each of the team’s next four buckets. He scored an 8-2 auto run – putting it seven with 34 seconds remaining, putting the nail in the coffin for his hard-fought victory.
Nevada has scored five of its last six and all five free throw attempts in that final 6:25 span — also now SJSU 3-9 shooting and 2-of-5 from 3-point range in that span.
The Spartans have now lost 17 straight conference games, dating back to last season, and their 10th loss to the Pack in their last 11 meetings. Nevada now goes 11-13 and 4-8 in MWC play; SJSU drops to 7-18 without a win in 13 conference affairs.
The Wolf Pack shot 56.1% and 55.6% from 3-point range (5-9) with 50 points (!) in the paint, finishing a plus-26 in that department.
Baker was at the forefront of his interior dominance, notching his second 20-point performance of the season on 11-of-13 shooting. Desmond Cambridge scored 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, racking up a team record seven boards with four assists and a pair of steals.
Grant Sherfield had 21 points while providing eight assists for the team, knocking down eight of his 17 shot attempts.
The Spartans, who lead Mountain West in 3-pointers per game (9.3), canned 14 of their 32 3-pointers (43.8%) on the night, shooting 44.1% overall.
Omari Moore had 22 points on 8 of 15 shooting, including 4 of 7 from 3-pointers, adding six rebounds, four assists and a steal. Tibet Gorener had 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting from range; Cardenas followed with 11 points and three 3s, tying Moore with four assists and two steals.
Moore’s 3-pointer gave SJSU the 13-10 advantage with 14:42 remaining in the first half. Gorener’s third triple of the half followed by Kuath’s layup gave SJSU a 23-16 lead.
SJSU Trey Anderson’s distance mark gave them a nine-point lead — 28-19 — with 6:26 remaining in the first half, prompting a Wolf Pack timeout. Nevadad responded with an 8-0 run – capped by Tre Coleman’s layup – reducing the deficit to one.
SJSU led 43-39 at halftime, knocking down 50.0% of their shots and were 9 of 18 (50.0%) from range. The Wolf Pack shot 53.6%; Cambridge also accounted for its four 3-point marks (from five attempts).
They were 11-under on the glass in the first half, however, getting just nine rebounds (seven defensive); for perspective, SJSU racked up nine offensive bounced back on his own in the first half (even though he only had six second-chance points).
Sherfield’s disputed layup put Nevada ahead 49-48 with over 14 minutes left in regulation time. Coleman’s 3-pointer extended his lead to 58-52 with 10:52 to go. SJSU followed a 10-2 run — capped by a pair of 3s from Moore and Gorener — to take the 62-60 lead.
But Kenan Blackshear’s three-point conversion gave Nevada a 69-65 lead with less than five minutes left. Baker recorded eight of 23 games in a 3:52 span, frosting Nevada’s fourth conference victory of the season and its first two-game winning streak in nearly two months.
Next up: Nevada and San Jose State will throw him back on Thursday in the second of his straight run. Brew your coffee — tipping will be at 9 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.