RENO—Something had to give.
Entering Wednesday night’s Mountain West matchup at Lawlor Events Center, Nevada was 6-0 at home. Boise State had won its last nine.
It was Nevada’s undefeated home record that gave.
The Wolf Pack (10-7, 2-3) failed to hit a field goal for more than six minutes late in the second half and a monster comeback attempt fell short, 74-67. Boise State improved to 13-4, 4-0.
“We’re not a good shooting team,” said an animated first-year Nevada coach Eric Musselman. “(We) weren’t a good shooting team last year here. So we have to keep working at it, keeping grinding and keep trying to squeeze points out.”
Nevada finished shooting 40 percent from the floor (26-of-65) and Boise shot 40.7 percent (22-of-54) but there was a much larger disparity at the charity stripe. The Broncos hit 26 of 36 freebies while the Pack hit 10 of just their 15 attempts.
Musselman attributed the disparity to a lack of respect towards the Pack as the program rebuilds.
“That’s the whole difference. We made 26 field goals to their 22,” Musselman said. “We have to just keep earning the respect of everybody: fans, media, referees. We have to earn everyone’s respect on a nightly basis.”
Trailing 63-49 with less than four minutes to play, Marqueze Coleman nearly made those of the announced 7,564 who left early, regret that decision.
Coleman went on a personal 9-0 run and D.J. Fenner stole a Boise defensive rebound and put it home to get Nevada within 63-60 with 1:10 to play.
However, on Boise’s following possession, big man Nick Duncan, who hadn’t scored the entire second half, hit a triple from the corner and blew a kiss goodnight to the once vociferous Nevada student section. The Pack missed its next two shots and Boise scored on its final five possessions to prevent another comeback effort.
“You look up then it’s six, then it’s eight, then it’s 10. Hats off to those guys,” Fenner said. “That was the game.”
Nevada trailed just 50-46 with 9:45 to play but freshman big man Cam Oliver went to the bench with his fourth foul. As Oliver watched, the Pack did not hit another field goal until Coleman hit a triple with 3:43 remaining to leave the hosts down 63-52.
The three pointer started Coleman’s personal comeback attempt that fell short. The senior said the loss was the most frustrating of the season.
“You’re there, then you’re not. You’re there, then you’re not,” Coleman said. “We just have to do a better job of staying composed.”
Coleman led Nevada with 17 points. Fenner had 15 and Eric Cooper Jr. had 13. Nobody else had more than six.
Defensively, Nevada held James Webb III to 14 points. Webb III was named the conference’s player of the week three of the previous four weeks. He still managed to haul in a game-high 14 rebounds.
Despite obvious frustration with the loss, Musselman said he was pleased with the defensive effort against an athletic Boise State squad.
“I said before the game, out of all the teams we play, (Boise is) by far the hardest team to defend,” he said. “So I thought we did a great job defensively.”
Mikey Thompson led the Broncos with 18.
Nevada connected on just 10 of its first 30 shots and trailed 35-24 at the half.
The Broncos opened their biggest lead of the half, 26-12, with eight minutes left on a Webb III bucket before the Pack responded with a quick 7-0 run to get back in it.
Cooper Jr. hit his second triple of the half to get Nevada within 29-21 with 5:10 remaining but the Pack couldn’t draw any closer, taking an 11-point deficit to the break.
Nevada led 6-3 early only for Boise to answer with a 10-0 run.
The Wolf Pack has Saturday off before going to Wyoming next Wednesday. Nevada edged Wyoming 71-68 at home in both team’s conference opener on Jan. 2.
Nevada then returns home for a tough two-game home stand against UNLV (Jan. 23) and San Diego State (Jan. 26).
“We got a long tough road. It does not get any easier,” Musselman said. “Going to Wyoming and coming back for the two talented teams we have to play.”