After watching Fresno State slowly erase an eight-point edge the Wolf Pack held with 5:08 left in the game, Carter then watched in dismay along with the rest of the 6,296 in attendance as Nevada completed its second-half collapse.
Down 58-55 with 0:09 on the clock, the Bulldogs inbounded the ball on their side of the half-court line to forward Kevin Foster. Foster then handed the ball off to guard Allen Huddleston, but a pair of Nevada defenders followed Huddleston and failed to switch on the ball screen, leaving Foster wide open for a three-pointer to tie the contest at 58 with 5.7 second left in regulation and force overtime. From there, Fresno State outscored the Wolf Pack 11-6 en route to a 69-64 comeback victory.
“You can look at me. I know I’m the head of the team,” Carter said. “But you know what, sometimes they have to take ownership of the team and be accountable for what the (expletive) they’re doing. You miss free throws, that’s concentration. You’re at home and you had the game in your grasp and you can’t step up there with courage to make a play, make a free throw, maybe you’re not a Division-I player.
“I just told them, ‘I don’t have any answers. I put you in a position to win. I run sets, run plays. You have to make plays. You have to make free throws. You have to block out. There’s only so much I can control once you get out there.’ It’s up to them to decide what they want to be.”
In a contest in which Nevada seemed in control of the first 35 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs took over in the closing five minutes, wiping out a 53-45 Pack advantage with a 13-5 run to send the game into overtime. To open OT, Fresno State guard Tyler Johnson scored the initial basket with a dunk at the 3:22 mark. It was the Bulldogs' first lead of the contest, as they would continue on to seal their comeback victory.
The Wolf Pack missed 14 free throws on the night (21-of-35), and was out-rebounded 47-37, with Fresno State turning 17 offensive rebounds into 19 points. A depleted Carter said the loss, which dropped Nevada to 12-13 overall and 3-8 in Mountain West Conference play, was the lowest point of his 14-year tenure with the Silver and Blue.
“What’s really bothering me about this whole thing is these guys are juniors,” he said. “It’s not like they’re just getting here. That’s the most frustrating thing. It is getting old. I don’t know what to say. I can’t shoot free throws for you. I can’t rebound for you. You’re put in a position to win, you got to learn to win.
“It’s reality. We are where we are. Toughness comes from within. At the end, you let it get away from you. Toughness is a part of making free throws … You had the game in your hands. You make free throws down the stretch and rebound, the game is over.”
Deonte Burton led the Pack effort with a team-high 12 points on the night. Marqueze Coleman chipped in with 11 points, while Jordan Burris tallied 10 points.
For Fresno State, Johnson led the way with 19 points, with 14 coming in the second half and overtime. Foster added 15 points to the victory along with 11 points from Huddleston.
Nevada will now get set to hit the road for a contest against San Diego State on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.