The Nevada Wolf Pack rode on Friday a dominant second half defense, outscoring the visiting Air Force Academy Falcons 41-22 en route to their 18th victory of the season.
Jarod Lucas led Nevada with 19 points, Will Baker added 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and Nick Davidson chipped in 10, including a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line as the Wolf Pack dispatched the visiting Air Force Academy Falcons.
Nevada moves to 18-6 overall and 8-3 in Mountain West Conference play. The Pack runs their home unbeaten streak to 12-0.
Coming off the big win over SDSU on Monday, Lawlor was jammed with 10,186 fans and there seemed to be an air of confidence floating through the building. But Air Force, despite its 3-7 mark in the Mountain West has played teams tough with the third ranked defense in the conference.
The Wolf Pack offense in the first half was somewhat sluggish, not unexpected given the high of Monday night’s historic victory. More troubling was knowing the Falcons can be effective from beyond the arc and some uninspired defense leaving several wide-open looks.
Air Force’s leading scorer, Jake Heidbreder hit 2-of-4 from deep and the Falcons shot 45% going 5-for-11 from distance in the half.
As opposed to four starters accounting for all of the offense in their last win, the Pack had balanced scoring in the initial half with seven players registering points. Kenan Blackshear led the Pack with seven.
Nevada was able to briefly push the lead to 11 points with 3:29 left in the half, but Air Force closed on a 7-0 run to pull within three at the break, 31-28.
The second half opened with Nevada visibly demonstrating better commitment to defending the three pointer, which translated into an opening 6-0 run in the first 4:28 of the second half to push the lead to 37-28.
The Falcons however would adjust and storm back with a 10-1 run of their own, closing within one at 40-39, with seven of those points coming from Heidbreger.
Nevada’s Jarod Lucas would score the Pack’s next seven points. After his three-pointer pushed the lead to 50-46 with 8:58 remaining, he raised his arms imploring the big Friday night crowd to help energize the defense.
With their slim lead, Nevada went to work inside, drawing contact and piling up fouls on the Air Force Academy. Six consecutive made free throws pushed the lead to ten at 56-46 with 7:16 to go.
Nick Davidson would break the string of free throws, receiving Darrion Williams’ fifth assist of the game for a layup, and the margin was 12.
The Wolf Pack defense stymied the Falcons yet again on the next possession leading to a steal and layup for Lucas, and Nevada had its largest lead of the game to that point 60-46 with 5:02 left.
Next up: Nevada travels to take on New Mexico at The Pit, February 7 at 7:30pm before returning to Lawlor Events Center to host Fresno State Friday February 10, at 8pm.
Nevada would dominate at +10 on the glass 34-24 with Will Baker snatching eight boards, and Darrion Williams six.
Williams had a career high seven assists.
Overall Nevada had 16 assists on 22 made field goals.
Nevada shot 75% from the free throw line (24-32) and were +19 for the game.
The Wolf Pack shot 48% from the field and held the Falcons to 42%.