Tied at 69-69 after regulation, Utah State’s Tyler Neubold opened the overtime scoring with a 3-pointer from the wing. Nevada, which did not have a field goal in the extra session, did get two free throws from Luke Babbitt and another free throw from Dario Hunt to tie the contest at 72-72 with 1:27 remaining in overtime.
That’s good as it got for the Wolf Pack. Aggies point guard Jared Quayle pulled up and buried a trey in transition for a 75-72 USU lead and the defending WAC champs led the rest of the way.
Nevada (10-7, 2-2 WAC) did not score in the final minute and a half of the game as Utah State (12-6, 2-2) posted the last seven points en route to victory.
“We gave it away at the end. We didn’t hit the shots we needed,” Babbitt said.
Leading 53-52 midway through the second half, Nevada proceeded to go on a 12-3 run that saw it forge ahead 65-55. A Babbitt hook shot with 6:59 remaining in regulation capped the outburst.
Babbitt led all scorers with 26 points, but was just 9-of-22 from the field. He also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
That’s when things turned sour for the host Wolf Pack. Utah State responded with 11 unanswered points to snare a 66-65 advantage, following a Quayle 3-pointer at the 2:50 mark of the second half.
Quayle finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point land.
Nevada got a driving finger roll layup from Dario Hunt at 2:37, giving the Pack its final lead of the night, 67-66. Utah State forward Tai Wesley then made 1-of-2 foul shots and dropped in a hook of his own for a 69-67 Aggies lead with 1:29 to go in regulation.
The Wolf Pack followed with a driving reverse layup in traffic from Armon Johnson to tie the game at 69-69 with 35 seconds left, setting the stage for overtime.
Utah State held some key advantages on the stat sheet. Despite trailing in the rebounding battle throughout most of the game, the Aggies wound up with a 43-36 victory on the boards.
Utah State shot better from the field, 30-of-65 compared to Nevada ’s 27-65. Additionally, the Logan, Utah school made 11-of-13 free throws while Nevada was just 9-of-18 at the charity stripe. The Aggies also outscored the taller Wolf Pack in the paint 32-22.
“We weren’t as tough as they were,” Nevada guard Ray Kraemer said. “They made the plays they needed and we just didn’t.”
In addition to Quayle’s big offensive night, Utah State saw Pooh Williams and Wesley chip in 16 and 15 points to the winning cause.
Six Nevada players accounted for all but seven of the team’s 225 total player minutes on the floor. Four of those hit for double digits in the scoring column. Kraemer made all five of his shots and contributed 14 points for the Wolf Pack while Brandon Fields and Johnson had 13 and 10 respectively.
“The guys don’t want to admit it, but we ran out of gas in the last five minutes,” Nevada coach David Carter said.
Nevada finished the first half on a flurry. The Wolf Pack trailed 30-24 after Quayle made a 3-pointer with 4:01 remaining before halftime. However, the USU crew went into a tailspin before the intermission and watched Nevada put together an 11-3 burst and grab a 35-33 lead at the break.
Babbitt buried a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left on the first-half clock to knot the score at 33-33. That left Aggies fans thinking they’d do no worse than go into the break deadlocked. But Nevada got a steal off Quayle at halfcourt and Fields fed Johnson for a breakaway layup, accounting for the two-point gap at halftime.
Wednesday’s ESPN2 nationally televised affair was Nevada’s first home loss of the season after eight straight wins to open the winter campaign. The Wolf Pack is in action again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. when it hosts Idaho.