RENO—After Friday’s unofficial game against Dominican, the Eric Musselman era is officially underway at Nevada.
The Wolf Pack’s 82-52 exhibition win over the NCAA Div. II squad at Lawlor Events Center started what school administration and fans hope will be a beginning for a program that went 37-58 the last three years under former coach David Carter.
An announced crowd of 2,139 took in the opener.
The 30-point final margin was the largest differential of the night as Nevada used efficient night at the charity stripe and strong transition play to methodically build on a 10-point halftime lead.
“I was really proud with the way we came out the last 20 minutes of the game,” Musselman said. “I thought the first 20 minutes maybe some guys were a little bit nervous … I thought in the second half, we started making one extra pass.”
The win will not show on Nevada’s record but there were a share of moral victories. The Wolf Pack shot 82 percent as a team from the free throw line (41-of-50) and true freshmen Lindsey Drew and Cameron Oliver were sharp in their first collegiate games. Both reached double digits.
Drew, who started at guard, finished with 13 points and six boards. Oliver chipped in 11 points with a couple highlight reel dunks and also grabbed six rebounds.
“I couldn’t be happier with our young guys,” Musselman said. “Cam Oliver gave us a huge spot off the bench obviously. He gives us a different dimension from an athletic standpoint. For Lindsey Drew to come out in his first college game and be a catalyst for us offensively and defensively (was big).”
Both said they battled nerves early before eventually settled into a rhythm.
It was also the fans first look at sophomore big man Elijah Foster since he dropped 20 pounds in the offseason. Foster drew high praise from Musselman after scoring six points and grabbing nine boards in just 15 minutes of work.
“Elijah Foster was phenomenal in his minutes,” Nevada’s coach said. “As a coach, after every game, you have to go back and re-evaluate yourself and if I had to do it all over again, I’d give Elijah more minutes … That was a young man who probably deserved more minutes than we gave him.”
If there was a moral defeat in the win, it was Nevada’s shooting, which has been a problem the last couple season. The Wolf Pack shot 37 percent from the field, including 1-of-13 from behind the arc.
D.J. Fenner hit the team’s only triple of the night with 5:38 left, ballooning a comfortable advantage to 68-47.
“It (shooting) is a concern,” Musselman said. “I’ve never seen a team shoot 1-of-13 and score 82 points. If you would’ve told me we would score 82 and made one three, I would’ve told it wasn’t going to happen.”
The Wolf Pack will play one more exhibition contest at home next Friday against Alaska-Fairbanks before officially opening its season Nov. 13 against Coastal Carolina in the first game of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.
Tipoff on Friday against Alaska-Fairbanks is at 7 p.m.