Nevada dominated the extra session to pull out an 88-80 overtime win over the visiting Broncos in front of 7,598 at Lawlor Events Center Saturday night.
The two teams went to overtime knotted at 73-73, but Nevada (15-9, 7-4) opened the overtime by outscoring Boise State 15-5 through the first four-plus minutes of the extra time.
The Wolf Pack led 79-78 after the Broncos got two free throws from La’Shard Anderson with 2:30 left in overtime. Nevada then proceeded to put the game away with the next eight points. Two Luke Babbitt free throws concluded that spurt and put the Pack ahead 87-78 with just under a minute left.
Babbitt finished with 27 points and Armon Johnson threw in 24 more to pace the Nevada offense. The Wolf Pack also got 16 points from Joey Shaw and 10 from Dario Hunt.
“You know they (Babbitt and Johnson) are going to make plays. I trust them and want the ball in their hands,” Nevada coach David Carter said. “They were very confident down the stretch.”
Nevada looked like it would win in regulation. Back-to-back jumpers from Babbitt and a runner by Johnson saw the Wolf Pack go on top 71-66 with 1:30 showing on the second-half clock. However, Boise State scored seven of the next nine points. Daequon Montreal buried a trey from the wing with 11 ticks to go in regulation to knot the game at 73s and force the overtime.
Boise State led throughout the first half and well into the second half. The Wolf Pack did not take its first lead of the contest until Hunt converted a three-point play at the 13:55 mark of the second half.
Still, Boise State had plenty of fight left. A layup by Ike Okoye gave the Broncos a 66-65 advantage with 3:08 remaining in regulation. Unfortunately for BSU fans, it was the final lead their team would enjoy.
Okoye was a thorn in Nevada’s side all night. The Broncos’ 6-foot 9-inch senior forward finished with a game-high 32 points on 14-of-25 shooting. That’s 20 points over his season average.
“Obviously he scored 32 points so that’s a credit to him,” Babbitt said of Okoye. “He’s a player maybe not a lot of people know about, but he’s a good player in the WAC. We have a lot of respect for him.
“He took a lot of jump shots and he came out hitting, so we had to honor him the rest of the game. Luckily, he cooled off a little bit.”
Montreal added 18 points and Kurt Cunningham had 11 for Boise State, which fell to 11-14 overall and 2-10 in the WAC.
Nevada helped its cause by getting to the foul line. The Wolf Pack connected on 26-of-36 from the charity stripe while Boise State got just 20 attempts there, making 15.
“We were trying to stay aggressive,” Carter said. “We haven’t been getting to the line as much as I’d like ... I was very pleased in that area tonight.”
Boise State controlled the first half. The Broncos jumped out to a 12-3 lead after the first four minutes. Nevada then began to find an offensive rhythm. The Wolf Pack outscored its guests 13-6 in a four-and-a-half minute stretch to get within two. Hunt had a dunk and a short jumper in the lane to cap the Pack run that left it trailing 18-16 with 11:37 to go before halftime.
Boise State stopped the bleeding. The Broncos got a runner in the lane from Paul Noonan at the 6:52 mark of the first half to extend their edge to 28-19. The league rivals traded buckets into halftime and Boise State wound up with a 34-28 lead at the break.
“It was a tough game,” Shaw said. “They came out in the first half and had more energy. But in the second half, we responded well. It’s a good win.”
Nevada returns to the hardwood Wednesday night when it hosts Fresno State at 7:05 p.m.