Deadlocked at 64-64 with three minutes to play, Nevada scored seven of the next eight points and was able put away its pesky foe from the Big Sky Conference.
Nevada led 69-65 when Portland State coach Tyler Geving was whistled for a technical foul. Wolf Pack point guard Deonte Burton proceeded to knock down both of the ensuing foul shots, giving Nevada a 71-65 edge with 1:48 to go.
That proved to be enough. Portland State could get no closer than four points the rest of the way. Nevada made 10 straight free throws in the final 1:48 to put the game away.
The Wolf Pack led 40-34 after freshman Kevin Panzer dropped in a hook shot with 16:28 remaining in the second half. The visiting Vikings responded with a 14-3 outburst to go on top 47-43, their largest lead of the night.
A 9-3 Nevada run saw the Pack regain the lead, 52-50. However, Portland State did not go away. Vikings swingman Chehales Tapscott dropped in a layup and converted a 3-point play on back-to-back PSU possessions, leaving the guests with a 62-59 advantage. It was their last lead of the night.
Nevada ’s Jerry Evans Jr. answered with a 3-point play on Nevada ’s next possession knotting the contest at 62-62. Nevada never trailed again.
The Wolf Pack helped its cause by putting five players in double digits in the scoring column. Malik story led the way for the hosts, pouring in 20 points. Burton, Evans, Panzer and Derrell Connor finished with 13, 12, 11 and 10 points respectively.
Chris Harriel paced the PSU crew with 23 points. Tapscott chipped in 18 while Charles Odum added 11 for the Vikings.
Both teams struggled to find the hoop in the opening minutes. Nevada connected on just two of its first 13 shots through the first seven minutes. And one of those was a banked-in 3-pointer.
The Pack led 11-7 just over eight minutes into the game, but Portland State (6-5) tied it at 11-11 after a pair of Melvin Jones free throws.
Nevada took the lead again but did not pull away. The Pack’s edge was still four, 23-19, after Harriel buried a 3-pointer for Portland State at the first half’s 4:11 mark.
It looked like the Wolf Pack was ready to take control after a 10-2 spurt forged it ahead, 33-21. Connor capped the modest run with two free throws that saw 1:09 still showing on the first-half clock.
Unfortunately for Nevada, it could not pull away. Portland State scored six unanswered points in the final minute of the first half and trailed by just five at the intermission, 33-28.
Nevada (3-8) finished shooting 25-of-60 shooting, including 10-29 from 3-point land. The 29 tries from long range was a season high, eclipsing the 20 Nevada took against UNLV.
The Wolf Pack plays again Wednesday when it goes to Seattle for a game against Pac-10 power Washington at 6 p.m.