The Wolf Pack survived with a 79-76 win against the Fresno State Bulldogs in a Western Athletic Conference showdown Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center.
The Pack started off a bit slow, but still matched the Bulldogs shot for shot. Fresno State had its last lead of the game at 12-10 with 17 minutes to go. That came when Bulldogs guard Tim Steed hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.
Nevada slowly pulled away after that and had a 21-15 lead at the midway point of the first half. Nevada's Deonte Burton was fouled soon after on a spinning layup to make the Pack lead 26-19 with 6:41 to go.
Pack post Dario Hunt got the crowd excited after he completed a 3-point play and dunked the ball twice in a span of less than a minute late in the first half. Hunt had 15 points at the intermission.
Nevada led by as many as 13 points in the first half but had to settle for a 39-33 lead as it went to the locker room at halftime.
Fresno State chipped the lead down to two points early in the second half on a pair of baskets by Steed and Greg Smith. The buckets made the score 41-39 with 18:50 to go in the conference clash.
Nevada shook off the run to build up a comfortable 55-42 lead on a layup by Jordan Burris with 13:48 to go. Burris was productive off the bench for Nevada as he scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds down the stretch.
Burris has given the team another scoring option during the current four-game win streak.
“I’ve been staying positive and working hard in practice," Burris said. “It’s a great feeling to be out there late in the game with everything on the line. I love it.”
Fresno State had another late surge left. The California school fought its way back late in the second half. Steed cut the lead to seven with 4:48 to go on a shot from beyond the arc but Nevada's Malik Story answered with a 15-foot jumper to make the score 70-64 with 2:17 to go.
Steed drained another three-pointer with 45 seconds left to make the score 72-69. However, that would be as close as the Bulldogs could get the rest of the way.
Burton was clutch at the free-throw line in the closing moments. He nailed six of his eight foul shots there to put the game away.
The Pack went on to win after Steed missed a running three pointer in attempt to tie the game at the buzzer. Even though the closing moments were sloppy for the Pack, Hunt was positive. “We didn’t play a perfect game tonight, “Hunt said. “We got too lax and let them back into it. But you can’t complain about a win. We’ll take it.”
Nevada’s four-game win streak has coach David Carter feeling confident. He believes his team is learning.
“We’ve learned how to win games now, “he said. “As far as turning the corner, not yet. We’re getting there. We just need take this momentum onto the road.”
Nevada (8-13, 5-3 WAC) plays again Wednesday at league-leading Utah state at 8 p.m.