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Nevada downs Louisiana Tech
by Dan Eckles
Jan 22, 2011 | 690 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — A strong second half propelled the Nevada Wolf Pack to its third straight win. At the same time, Nevada kept Louisiana Tech winless in Western Athletic Conference contests by handing the visiting Bulldogs a 66-58 defeat Saturday night.

The three straight wins are a season first for Nevada, which had just picked up back-to-back wins for the first time earlier in the week.

“It’s a sign of maturing, coming back after being down in the first half” Nevada coach David Carter said. “The team has more confidence. They know each other now and they are beginning to understand their roles.”

Trailing by five to start the second half, 33-28, Nevada had the lead by the first media timeout, four minutes after halftime. A 3-pointer by Olek Czyz gave Nevada a 40-39 lead with 16:13 left in the game. It was Nevada’s first lead since 21-19, 10 minutes earlier in the game.

Czyz’s 3-pointer kick-started a 20-6 Nevada outburst. Freshman Jordan Burris got a runner to fall with 7:33 left in the league affair and the Wolf Pack had extended its lead to 57-45. That was Nevada’s biggest lead of the night.

Louisiana Tech never regained the lead or even pulled into a tie again.

Still, the Bulldogs had some fight left. They responded by scoring nine straight points, capped by a dunk from Olu Ashaolu. The late burst left Louisiana Tech down by just three, 57-54, with 4:38 still remaining on the game clock.

Nevada scored nine of the next 11 points to put the game away. Wolf Pack forward Dario Hunt made all six of his free throws in the mini run. Hunt finished with 16 points, helped by an 8-of-8 effort at the charity stripe.

Deonte Burton was the star of the show for Nevada. He knocked down 7 of 9 shots from the floor and finished with 18 points and six assists. Malik Story chipped in 10 points toward the winning cause.

Nevada was out-rebounded 39-32 and had more turnovers than its guests (14-11), but the local school held a huge edge at the foul line. Nevada buried 21 of 32 free throws while Louisiana Tech got just 10 attempts there, making eight.

Louisiana Tech had the 33-28 lead at halftime. That came largely on the strength of a late 7-0 run. A pair of Patrick Nyeko free throws got Nevada into a 23-23 tie with 3:25 to go in the first half.

Louisiana Tech followed with its 7-0 run, the largest run of consecutive points by either team in the first 20 minutes. Romario Souza’s putback at the 1:49 mark of the first half capped the spurt and left the Bulldogs on top 30-23.

In the last minute and a half of the first half, the Wolf Pack sandwiched a pair of Jordan Finn free throws and a Burton 3-pointer around a trey by LTU’s Cordarius Johnson. That gave Louisiana Tech its 33-28 halftime lead.

Nevada’s largest lead of the first half was two points, the last of which came at 21-19 when Burton drained two free throws with 6:01 to go before the break.

“The first half was very ugly,” Carter said. “We came out with no energy and we played down to the competition.”

Ashaolu was a one-man wrecking crew for the Ruston, La. school in the first half, pouring in 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds. DeAndre Brown was the only other Bulldogs player to finish in double figures. He had 14 points, but was just 5-of-18 from the field.

“We let Ashaolu get too many easy shots and at that point it was hard to stop him,” Hunt said. “The difference with us from the beginning of the season and now is that we’re more consistent. It definitely helps to string consecutive stops together.”

Louisiana Tech fell to 9-12, 0-7 with the loss. The win improves Nevada to 7-13 overall and 4-3 in conference games. The Wolf Pack plays again Thursday at home against Fresno State at 7:35 p.m.

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