The Nevada Wolf Pack coasted its way to a 74-63 victory over the University of California, Irvine Anteaters Saturday afternoon.
Nevada started its day by jumping out to a 6-0 lead when forward Dario Hunt forced in a short runner in traffic after being fouled. He missed the free throw.
Freshman guard Jerry Evans Jr., who scored eight points for the game, hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 12-3 at the 16:14 mark of the first half.
Irvine then used an 8-0 run to get itself to within 12-11 on the strength of two 3-point shots by Mike Wilder and Derrick Strings.
That one-point difference would be the last time the Anteaters would be that close to taking the lead for the rest of the game.
Nevada slowly but surely pulled away during the remainder of the first half by outscoring Irvine 24-14. The Wolf Pack’s lead at halftime was 36-25.
Considering UCI’s struggles this winter, Nevada could have been up even more than the 11-point halftime cushion. Head coach David Carter certainly felt that way.
“We played out of rhythm most of the night because they played four guards, “he said. “We played well in spurts and there were times when I thought we got pretty stagnant.”
“We relaxed a bit in the first half and also in the second half, “ said Hunt. “We have to keep the energy up the whole time in games like this.”
Nevada’s largest lead in the second half was at 65-47 with 5:17 remaining in the game.
“People were looking at our lead and thought it was just going to be easy,“ Hunt said. “They’re always going to keep fighting so we have to put our stamp on it early and keep it there.”
The Wolf Pack out-rebounded the Anteaters 46-28. The large margin was the Pack’s largest of the year. Hunt said that his team had a size advantage but didn’t take full advantage of it, especially in the first half when it had only a three-rebound advantage over Irvine.
Hunt scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. That brought his season double-double total to 10. It was his seventh in the last 15 games.
Junior forward Olek Czyz pulled down 11 rebounds, a career-high, to go along with eight points.
Malik Story was the next highest scorer behind Hunt with 15 points.
Nevada’s next game is Thursday against Idaho at Lawlor Events Center. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m.