RENO, Nev. (AP)—Marcelus Kemp knows how close No. 15 Nevada came to being upset by Hawaii in a wild finish in the final seconds Saturday night.
“It feels like we dodged a bullet,” said Kemp, who scored the Wolf Pack’s first 14 points of the second half and finished with 23 in the 69-68 victory.
Nick Fazekas added 21 points and 10 rebounds for Nevada (21-2, 9-1 Western Athletic Conference), which has won 14 of its last 15 games and now is 57-6 at home since the start of the 2003-04 season.
Hawaii appeared to have gone ahead 70-69 on Ahmet Gueye’s desperation basket from 10 feet with 5.8 seconds left and Gueye headed for the free throw line after being fouled by Fazekas.
But after about a five-minute review of the videotape, the officials determined Fazekas fouled Gueye before he released the ball while falling down.
On the inbounds play, Matt Gibson’s 3-point attempt was partially blocked by Denis Ikovlev. Gueye grabbed the ball and missed off the backboard before Hawaii’s P.J. Owsley put it back in but another review of the tape showed it was after the buzzer.
“That was a great finish and one of the wackier ones, I guess,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “We dodged a bullet, like the kids said.”
The Wolf Pack made 20-of-21 free throws on the game and have missed only one of their last 40 from the line. Fazekas made all nine of his free-throw attempts for the three-time defending champions of the WAC.
“That’s how you win games,” Fazekas said. “You have to be able to shoot well from the free-throw line. … They had their chance to beat us but we got them in the end.”
Gueye made 10-of-15 shots for 21 points and 10 rebounds for Hawaii (13-10, 4-6 WAC), which had won three in a row. Matt Lojeski added 12 points, Gibson 11 and Owsley 10 for the Rainbow Warriors.
Hawaii coach Riley Wallace, who is retiring at the end of the season after 20 years as coach, saw his career record fall to 0-10 at Nevada.
“They have great players. They have a great record and they’ve dominated the league for the last three years,” Wallace said.
Leading 67-66, Nevada point guard Ramon Sessions made a pair of free throws for a 69-66 lead with 1:13 left. But Gueye scored in the lane to cut it to 69-68 with 49 seconds remaining before Lojeski stole Kyle Shiloh’s pass to give Hawaii the ball with 32 seconds left and set up the dramatic finish.
Gueye took a pass on the edge of the lane and, as he was falling down, tossed the ball high in the air before it came down through the net. When the referees signaled basket, Fox ripped his jacket off and went face to face with official Bill Gracey, who then reviewed the tape and reversed the call.
“One official counted the basket but he didn’t confer with the other two officials,” said Steve Macy, the WAC’s assistant commissioner who was at the game.
“The other two said the basket did not count so they waved off the shot. It was a judgment call and they wanted to get it right,” he said.
Fox said the officials deserved credit for reviewing the play.
“As much grief as they take, it takes courage to do it right,” Fox said, adding that he wasn’t very pleased with the play of his team.
“We did make foul shots. That’s about the only thing we did that was something positive,” Fox said. “Give Hawaii credit. They outplayed us in many ways, but we did shoot free throws very well.”
Kemp opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers to start his personal 14-point run, capped by another 3-point goal to put Nevada ahead 54-45 at 13:40.
Lojeski and Gibson made back-to-back threes and Gueye hit from 17 feet to cut it to 56-55 at 10:07. The Warriors tied it 59-59 when Gibson scored in the lane off a pass from Bobby Nash with 7:39 left.
Fazekas made a pair of free throws and Kemp turned a steal into a dunk to put Nevada up 63-59 at 5:46. But Lojeski scored inside and Nash hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 65-64 at 2:24.
Sessions scored inside for a 67-64 lead at 2:01, then after Owsley’s 15-footer, made two free throws to make it 69-66 at 1:13.
Nevada went on a 9-0 run midway through the first half for a 25-15 lead when Ikovlev blocked Dominic Waters’ shot in the lane, went the length of the floor for a dunk, was fouled and made the free throw.
Hawaii answered with a 16-6 run, including 3-point goals by Nash and Gibson, and Owsley’s jumper to tie it 31-31 4:50 before the half. But Kemp followed with a 3-pointer, Fazekas made four free throws and Sessions two for a 40-33 lead at the break.
Before the game, Nevada President Milt Glick and athletic director Cary Groth presented a rocking chair to Wallace.