Wolf Pack uses 25-2 second-half run to overcome dreadful start, avenge two regular-season losses to Fresno, and march into Mountain West title game
They say it’s tough to beat a team three times. On Friday night in the Mountain West Tournament semifinals, they were right.
After losing to Fresno in both regular-season contests, Nevada (27-6) used a nearly perfect second half to top Fresno State, 83-72, and earn a spot in a conference title game for the first time since the 2008-09 season as a member of the WAC. Nevada has now won eight in a row for the first time since the 2011-12 season when it rattled off 16 straight victories.
The Wolf Pack was held to a season-low 21 points on 23.3 percent shooting in the first half and was saddled with an 11-point deficit. It was Nevada’s lowest scoring output in a half since last year’s opener against Coastal Carolina, the first game of the Eric Musselman era.
The second half told a much different story.
Nevada exploded for 62 points on 79.2 percent shooting from the floor, 80 percent from deep and pulled away from Fresno down the stretch.
Marcus Marshall scored 25 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. He finished 7-of-13 shooting, 5-of-9 from deep.
Cam Oliver (27 points, seven rebounds) set a career high with five triples. He connected on 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, 9-of-16 from the floor.
Jordan Caroline squeaked out his 13th double-double, pouring in 10 points and pulling down 10 boards.
Down 40-31 with under 16 minutes left, Nevada used a 25-2 run to grab control. The Wolf Pack went 6-for-6 from three-point land during the stretch.
Colorado State (23-10) awaits Nevada in the Mountain West title game on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Las Vegas with an automatic NCAA Tournament berth on the line. The Rams handled San Diego State, 71-63, in Friday’s second semifinal.
It will be the second meeting in a week between Nevada and Colorado State with a title on the line.
Nevada pulled away from Colorado State in the second half last Saturday at Lawlor in the regular-season finale to clinch the Mountain West regular-season title with an 85-72 win.