No. 11 Nevada 95, Boise St. 81
BOISE, Idaho (AP)—Winning a fourth-straight regular-season crown is just goal No. 1 for Nevada coach Mark Fox.
“We’re happy with winning this,” Fox said after the 11th-ranked Wolf Pack clinched the Western Athletic Conference with a 95-81 win over Boise State on Saturday night. “But it’s not the end of our season. We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to reach all of our goals.”
Senior forward Nick Fazekas again led the way for Nevada, scoring 28 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the Wolf Pack’s ninth straight win.
Fazekas, the 2005 and 2006 conference player of the year, overcame a slow start to score seven points in the last 3 minutes of the first half and 15 in the second half.
Nevada (26-2, 12-1 WAC) has the fewest losses among Top 25 teams. The Wolf Pack will play their third straight road game at Utah State on Thursday before getting a rematch with New Mexico State, one of two teams to beat them, at home next Saturday.
“We definitely don’t want to look past Utah State, because they play well in their environment,” Fox said. “Both games are very crucial. It’s a bigger challenge to go out and try to win both.”
After a tight, fast-paced first half, Fox ordered his players to come out strong in the first 5 minutes of the second half.
A quick jumper by Fazekas, a 3-pointer by Denis Ikovlev and another jumper and free throw by Fazekas gave the Wolf Pack some immediate breathing room.
Kyle Shiloh then hit a layup to push the lead to 54-44 before Ikovlev and Marcelus Kemp each hit 3s for a 60-46 lead.
Boise State (16-11, 8-6) got within six points at the 5:38 mark, but a 3-pointer by freshman forward Tyrone Hanson and Fazekas’ layup gave the Wolf Pack another double-digit lead, and the Broncos never recovered.
“They missed some of their shots,” Boise State coach Greg Graham said of his players, “and we don’t have to talk about Nevada and how they’re a very experienced team and they kept their composure.”
The teams traded baskets during a fast-paced first half in which both teams shot 60 percent from the field in the first 10 minutes.
Coby Karl hit a pair of free throws to give Boise State a 19-14 lead, but Nevada roared back on a jumper by Fazekas and seven straight points from Kemp.
Nevada came back to lead by five after Hanson sank a 3-pointer, but the teams continued to trade points to end the half.
Fazekas led five players in double figures for Nevada, which hit 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. Ramon Sessions added 17 points, Ikovlev had 14, Shiloh 12 and Kemp 10.
Matt Nelson and Karl paced Boise State with 19 points apiece. Nelson also had 10 rebounds.