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 season.
Nevada improved to 3-1 with the win.
-- SUU --