Wolf Pack improves to 9-2 with 79-69 home non-conference win over Anteaters
RENO – Perimeter shooting was a blaring weakness for the Wolf Pack a season ago.
This is a different year. This is a different team.
Nevada hit a season-high 13 shots from deep on Wednesday night (needing 25 shots) and hung on to beat UC Irvine 76-69 in the final non-conference game of the season in front of 6,911 at Lawlor Events Center.
The Wolf Pack (9-2) relied so heavily on perimeter shooting it finished with more made three-point baskets (13) than two-point field goals (12). Nine of the home team’s first 10 shots came from behind the arc.
“I think our identity is completely changed,” Nevada second-year coach Eric Musselman said of the team’s outside shooting.
Cam Oliver hit all four of his shots from deep and finished with a team-high 18 points along with nine rebounds. He was one of five Nevada players in double figures.
He was assessed a technical foul for arguing his third foul with 13:13 left in the second half and sat for the next 10 minutes of play. Nevada never relinquished the lead. The advantage shrunk no smaller than six – and got as large as 11 – most of the second half, until Eyassu Worku scored five unanswered points to pull the Anteaters (5-7) within 73-69 with 38 seconds left.
The guests did not score again.
“I think anytime you come off an emotional win (at Washington), you know, Sunday night, then you turn around and play this quickly (you get tired) … No excuses, we took care of business,” Musselman said. “We closed out the home nonconference undefeated (5-0). We’re in a good spot …”
Marcus Marshall backed is 32-point effort in the win over Washington with 17 points (5-of-8 from deep) on Wednesday.
Jordan Caroline turned in yet another double-double, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds to go along with five assists. He took over at times in the second half with Oliver watching from the bench.
“Probably the thing I thought Jordan did as well as anything tonight, was his assists,” Musselman said.
Nevada finished with 19 assists on its 25 made field goals.
Despite the win, and shooting 13-of-25 from three, Musselman talked at length about what he felt was poor shot selection throughout.
“It was probably as bad as it’s been all year,” he said. “We have to improve our shot selection. I thought we had some decision making that we’ll clean up tomorrow. But again, having that said, we just won a game by seven points at home … We got shot happy when we started draining threes.
“Some of those look great when they’re falling. But then you miss two or three in a row, I have to hear about it from my wife.”
UC Irvine led 21-20 midway through the first half. It did not lead again. Nevada went on an 18-2 run to grab its largest lead of the night, 38-23.
Eyassu led all scorers with 19 points off the bench. He entered the contest averaging 7.5 points per game.
Nevada now takes what Musselman believes is a needed break, before heading to Las Vegas next week to close out the non-conference slate in the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic.
The Pack plays Towson next Wednesday and UC Santa Barbra the following afternoon. Both games tip at 2:30 p.m.