Nevada trailed by 10 with just over a minute to go in the first half against Montana, but rolled from there. The Pack finished the first half on a flurry and breezed through the second half en route to positing an 81-66 non-conference home win.
Montana controlled the first half but for all its efforts had just a two-point lead at the intermission. The Grizzlies led by as many as 11 in the first 20 minutes and the margin was still double digits at 34-24 with just over a minute to go before the break.
Nevada put together an 8-0 run in the final 1:11 of the first half to keep the game close. Deonte Burton drained a 3-pointer with 1:11 left before halftime to start the run. Twenty seconds later, Dario Hunt threw down a dunk in transition after a Burton steal at midcourt. Then, with three ticks to go on the first-half clock, Malik Story canned a trey of his own, making the scoreboard read 34-32 at halftime.
“Right before the half, we had a couple bad passes in a row,” Hunt said. “We were frustrated a little bit, but then we found a way to make some plays and before you knew it, we were down just two at halftime.”
The Grizzlies scored the first bucket of the second half on a Brian Qvale layup to go up 36-32, but it was all downhill from there for the Missoula, Mont. school.
Nevada responded and put together a 29-10 run over the next 10 minutes. A Hunt dunk capped the spurt and lifted the Wolf Pack into a 61-46 lead.
Hunt scored a team-high 18 points.
“For the young guys, they were getting a feel for the game,” Nevada coach David Carter said. “We started so passive and were not attacking. You can’t wait for a team to punch you in the mouth to respond. You have to respond right away.”
The Wolf Pack then proceeded to score 13 of the next 17 points for a 74-50 advantage. That was Nevada’s largest lead of the day.
In addition to Hunt’s big day, Story chipped in 17 points and Burton added 16.
A hook shot by Brian Qvale forged the Grizz ahead 26-15 at the 8:26 mark of the first half. It was their largest lead of the first half. Montana helped its cause by making 10 of its first 15 shots in the game, but it went could and connected on just two its next 12 into the break, helping Nevada hang around and eventually blow up.
Nevada finished 25-of-50 from the field, including 10-of-19 from 3-point land.
Conversely, Montana was just 22-of-57 and 4-of-15.
Qvale led Montana with 20 points but he was the lone Grizzlies player to finish in double digits in the scoring column.
The Wolf Pack is in action again Monday when it plays Pacific in Los Angeles at the NIT Preseason Tip-off. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.