Behind a second-half effort that was a cure to the Pack’s previous woes of closing out games in the final 20 minutes of a contest, Nevada rallied late against the Falcons for a 74-69 comeback victory Saturday afternoon.
After Air Force took a 27-26 edge into halftime, it looked as though the Wolf Pack would once again be victimized by its own mistakes down the stretch.
Out of the break, neither side was able to create much separation as the teams traded a barrage of baskets. The Falcons initially pushed their one-point advantage from the intermission into a 38-34 lead with 15:22 left to play, but seven unanswered points by the Pack capped by a 3-pointer from guard Denote Burton put Nevada on top 41-38 with 13:50 on the clock.
From there, the 6,673 Nevada fans in attendance probably thought they were witnessing another late-game collapse by the Pack.
After the Falcons clawed their way back to a 53-51 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, the visitors put even more doubt into the fans’ hope.
In just over a minute, Air Force rattled off eight quick points behind a pair of free throws and a three-pointer from Mike Fitzgerald, followed by another triple by Kyle Green. That run pushed the Falcons to a 61-51 advantage with 5:32 to play.
Slowly, Nevada chipped away at the deficit.
An 8-3 spurt by the Wolf Pack cut Air Force’s lead down to 64-59 with a little over three minutes left. After a dunk by the Falcons pushed the margin to seven points, Nevada stormed back to retake the lead for good.
Seven straight points from Burton left the Pack down 67-66 with just over a minute to play. Then Nevada freshman Marqueze Coleman literally stole the game away from Air Force.
With the Falcons still holding a one-point advantage and precious seconds ticking off the clock, Air Force dribbled up the court in hopes of sealing the victory. Coleman stopped the Falcons in their tracks though, swiping the ball and racing the length of the court for a layup with contact. Coleman then sunk the following free throw to give Nevada a 69-67 lead with 0:31 on the clock. The Wolf Pack then closed out the win at the charity stripe.
Burton led the Pack with 22 points in the contest. Forward Kevin Panzer also chipped in with the first double-double of the season for Nevada, tallying 10 points along with 14 rebounds. The Pack also got 16 points from guard Malik Story in the winning effort.
Nevada (12-11, 3-6 MWC) will now hit the road to face Wyoming on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.