That offensive firepower and stingy defense was still intact Thursday night, as Nevada cruised to a 78-54 home win over the visiting Pacific Tigers.
“I think we had a disappointing opener, and this was kind of our fresh start,” Nevada forward Olek Czyz said. “We showed the fans what we’ve got. When we’re energetic and we’re prepared, we can play really well.”
Thursday’s game started with a back-and-forth affair in which Nevada grabbed a 17-13 lead midway through the first half. From there, the Wolf Pack exploded offensively and clamped down on defense, closing out the remainder of the half with a 32-7 run to take a commanding 49-20 halftime lead. Nevada used an onslaught of shooting from behind the arc to propel the run, hitting 8-11 three pointers.
“I thought we came out sharp,” Nevada coach David Carter said. “The key was hitting shots early. The defense really pushed them out. We defended them very well to get off to a good start. I think it just carried into the second half.”
With the large lead in hand, the Wolf Pack coasted the remainder of the game, never allowing Pacific to come within more than 20 points of its lead to earn its first victory. Nevada finished 12-18 (66.7 percent) on three-point shots and 28-48 (58.3 percent) overall.
Nevada was led by Malik Story and Czyz, who both finished with double digits in points. Story led the Wolf Pack in scoring, finishing with 18 points, while Czyz dropped in 17 points.
“It’s huge,” Carter said. “Whenever you can have your starter guys, your two big guns like that, score in double-digits, it gives confidence to everybody really. They are two of our guys that we look to go to for scoring. So when they’re scoring, it helps everyone’s confidence.”
The Wolf Pack also got help from Jerry Evans and Kevin Panzer, who both finished with 11 points, along with eight and six rebounds respectively. Dario Hunt led the team in rebounds, grabbing 13.
Nevada will now try to carry the momentum of its first win into next week, when it plays in the Chicago Invitational Challenge, beginning Sunday against Prairie View A&M.
“The first win is always the hardest one to get,” Carter said. “Now that you have that one, you look forward to getting number two.”