Nevada has lost only three times since late November and those three losses were by a combined 15 points. That’s what made Tuesday’s 84-56 road loss at Stanford such a surprise.
The 28-point loss was the biggest margin of defeat of the season for Nevada. One-sided defeats, like 68-46 opening night loss to Missouri State and 76-55 loss to BYU two weeks later, looked like they were well in the Pack’s past.
But Nevada could not defend Stanford. The Cardinal averaged a shade over 71 points per game this season, but had little trouble torching Nevada for 84 Tuesday.
“Our defense was not at the same pace as their offense,” Nevada coach David Carter said. “We were a step behind. Can’t stop teams if you’re a step behind.”
Stanford scored 42 points in each half. It knocked down 8-of-14 from three-point land. The Cardinal had a handful of dunks and transition layups in the romp as it outscored the Wolf Pack 36-20 in the paint and 21-5 in points off turnovers.
“I thought this was one of the best games our guys have played all season, on both ends of the court,” fourth-year Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We had 17 assists. That’s a high for us and only nine turnovers. That’s as efficient as we’ve been all year. I’m proud of our guys, especially the seniors.”
The Cardinal stayed perfect on the year when it eclipses the 80-point mark.
Conversely, Nevada’s 56-point outing was well below its season average of 70.7. The Wolf Pack had only been held under 60 points once since its November 25th loss to BYU in Chicago, and that came in a win, 54-44 over San Jose State in the WAC Tourney.
Stanford opponents score 63-plus points an outing on average, making Nevada’s offensive struggles more of a quandary.
“I thought we did a terrific job defensively,” Dawkins said. “Dario Hunt and Olek Czyz are terrific players for Nevada and we made it difficult for them to get the ball inside.”
That was evidenced by Nevada scoring just the 20 points in the key area. Hunt had just two points in defeat and Czyz, an All-WAC first teamer, was limited to 11, getting off just six shots in the road loss.
“They’re really big and physical,” Carter said of the Stanford defenders. “They were tough and we never got into a rhythm. They took us out of the game. Give them credit.”