The Nevada Wolf Pack created three turnovers to erase a five-point deficit with 1:13 to play in the first overtime period, going on to defeat the 25th ranked New Mexico Lobos 97-94 in a double overtime heart-stopper Monday night at Lawlor Event Center.
New Mexico forward Morris Udeze’s layup gave New Mexico an 87-82 lead with just 1:13 left in overtime, and center Will Baker’s foul would send him to the free throw line with a chance to make it a six-point lead.
Nevada head coach Steve Alford would later comment on how the Lobos came into Lawlor with a little swagger that night, and Udeze showed that, yelling, “that’s game” to the boisterous Wolf Pack student section, who had made themselves known to the Lobos all night behind the North basket.
But Udeze underestimated the Pack, just like the preseason prognosticators that picked them to finish ninth in the Mountain West. The 6-8 transfer from Wichita State clanked his free throw attempt off the front of the rim, an attempt so poor it surprised Baker as he failed to come up with the rebound.
New Mexico secured the ball and immediately called timeout, and Udeze’s boast appeared to have strong merit. But this Pack team has shown tremendous fight all season.
“It’s nothing, I promise, it’s nothing our coaches do other than I just write down the eight and M on the board at the (under eight-minutes remaining media timeout) timeout and those dudes just do the rest,” said Alford kind of shaking his head in disbelief. “It didn’t matter that we were down 87-82 to them. It was, ‘there’s still time and we’re going to win it.’”
The swarming Wolf Pack defense forced New Mexico into a five-second inbound violation.
Nevada then pushed the ball up the floor and Kenan Blackshear found freshman Darrion Williams open for a corner three. Never mind that the kid from Bishop Gorman had gone 0-5 from beyond the arc thus far in the game. Williams calmly squared up and flushed it to draw Nevada within two at 87-85 with one minute to play in OT.
The Lobos, however, still had the lead and the ball and decided to burn some clock. All that did was allow the Pack defenders to set up. They set up so well that New Mexico never even got a shot off in the required 30 seconds.
Mr. do-it-all, Kenan Blackshear, then hit a fall-away 12-footer with 15.7 seconds on the clock and the game was tied at 87.
New Mexico still had a chance to vanquish the Wolf Pack but Blackshear, demonstrating his game awareness and basketball IQ, knew that the possession arrow favored Nevada and forced a tie-up of New Mexico’s Jamal Mashburn Jr. His game-high fifth steal of the night gave the ball back to the Pack with 2.5 seconds remaining.
Jarod Lucas’ half court attempt caught the front of the rim and the Wolf Pack and Lobos would play a second extra period.
New Mexico hit their first shot of the second OT, but a Williams left-hand driving layup and a pair of free throws from Lucas would give Nevada the lead.
Kenan Blackshear would commit his fifth to foul out shortly thereafter, and Nevada would now have to get it done without their leader.
The Pack managed to build a lead on the strength of Lucas’ free throws, but a late 4-1 New Mexico run knotted things at 94 with 44 seconds left in the 2nd OT.
With the game still tied, the aforementioned Udeze corralled a rebound off a Lucas miss, and surrounded by Wolf Pack defenders on the baseline lost his composure and elbowed Nevada’s Daniel Foster in the mouth and then shoved him to the floor with his forearm.
The Nevada bench erupted as no foul was called. Udeze passed to New Mexico guard Jaelen House who got the ball across mid-court and called timeout with 16.3 seconds left to set up for a final shot.
The timeout however gave the officials time to review the previous play, and eventually would call the flagrant foul on Udeze, which would mean two shots for Foster with everyone behind the mid-court line and the ball for Nevada.
New Mexico head coach Richard Pitino was informed of the call and was incensed, having to be restrained by his assistant coaches. While his reaction was understandable, it was inexplicable how referee Verne Harris missed it in the first place from 5 feet away.
Foster would miss his first shot and swished the second, giving Nevada a one-point lead, which forced the Lobos to foul on the inbound play. Tre Coleman got the ball to Will Baker who was immediately fouled.
Baker, who had been an absolute monster all night scoring a career-high 28 points, icily stroked two of the prettiest free throws you’ll ever see to give the Pack the lead at 97-94.
The Nevada defense came up big yet again on New Mexico’s final possession as Daniel Foster made House attempt an awkward three to tie. The ball caromed toward the right corner where Lucas scooped it and galloped off as the Wolf Pack students flooded the court, celebrating the first win over a top-25 opponent at Lawlor in 20 years.
Next up: Nevada travels to Las Vegas to take on the Rebels on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. The Wolf Pack returns home for a rematch with San Diego State on Tuesday, Jan. 31at 8 p.m.
- The Wolf Pack moved to 6-2 in Mountain West play, 16-5 overall.
- Nevada is the only team in the Mountain West to be undefeated at home (10-0).
- The game featured 16 ties and 23 lead changes.
- Neither team led by more than five points.
- Nevada had four players score in double figures.
- Tre Coleman had a career-high nine assists and tied his career-high with three steals.
- Coleman also had a pair of critical late game blocks.
- Darrion Williams had a double-double with a game-high 13 rebounds and 13 points.
- Nevada dished out 23 assists on 36 made baskets.
- The Wolf Pack scored 23 points off 19 turnovers.
- New Mexico’s Jamaal Mashburn Jr. had a career-high 33 points.