RENO, Nev., Nov. 18 - Southern Utah gave one of its
best efforts on the young season, giving Nevada all it wanted for 30 minutes
Sunday afternoon, but the Wolf Pack warmed up down the stretch to overcome an
eight-point second half deficit to upend the Thunderbirds 79-61.
After trailing 34-33 at halftime the Thunderbirds hit four
of their first five shots in the second half to take a 43-37 lead on a pair of
Jayson Cheesman free throws with 16:22 to play. SUU pushed the lead to 47-39 on
a jumper by Wade Collie at the 13:02 mark, but from that point Nevada's Malik
Story led a Wolf Pack comeback.
Nevada ran off seven straight points on five free throws,
three by Story, and a Cole Huff layup, but Julian Scott hit a jumper to give
SUU a 49-46 edge. Deonte Burton buried a three with 10:51 to play to tie the
game at 49-49, however, and the Wolf Pack took the lead when Burton got a steal
then hit two free throws after Collie fouled him on his way to the basket.
Two Marqueze Coleman free throws gave Nevada a 52-49 edge
with 10:21 to play, and although Southern Utah pulled back to within one the
Thunderbirds didn't ever lead again.
Nevada scored its next six points from the free throw line
and took a 61-56 lead on a Story jump shot. Three more Wolf Pack free throws
made it a 63-56 game, then Story three straight 3-pointers to push the
advantage to 75-58 with 2:29 to play as SUU got just a Scott jumper
during the stretch.
"We came in with a game plan, we were able to execute it, we
just fell short," SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. "It was a battle from start to
finish. I was pleased that we were able to lead at certain points of the game
outside of the first two minutes. I was pleased with our defensive effort, with
our rebounding, I was pleased with our guys' aggressiveness. It's something we
need to build on and continue to build on. It's the only way we're going to get
better, by playing good basketball teams and proving you belong."
Southern Utah wound up with a 33-29 rebounding advantage and
wound up shooting 42.9 percent from the floor after hitting just two of its
final 10 shots down the stretch. Nevada hit 9-of-14 in the same period to improve
from 39 percent to a final shooting percentage of .468.
Nevada also hit 29-of-36 free throws while SUU converted
just 14-of-22 opportunities from the free throw line.
Damon Heuir hit 4-of-5 3-pointers in the first half and
wound up with 14 points to lead the Thunderbirds, while Scott finished with 13 points and Collie had 12 points
and six rebounds. Jackson Stevenett finished with a team-high seven rebounds
and two steals to go with eight points for SUU, which dipped to 0-4 on the