‘Balanced’ Nevada denies Warriors, 72-66

Hawai’i center Bernardo da Silva drives past Nevada forward K.J. Hymes during first-half action Sunday evening in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center. (Brandon Flores photo)

Hawai’i huffed and puffed but could not quite blow past the big bad Wolf Pack Sunday evening, as visiting Nevada denied the Warriors, 72-66, in exciting nonconference men’s basketball action.

An energetic and vocal crowd of 3,362 in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center watched all five Wolf Pack starters score in double figures, led by shooting guard Jarod Lucas’ 16 points, to help Nevada improve to 9-1. Center Bernardo da Silva scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds and shooting guard Noel Coleman added 17 points and four boards for the Warriors, who fell to 7-2 with their first home loss of the season.

JoVon McClanahan’s free throw with 50 seconds remaining had closed it to 68-66, and UH forced a shot clock violation to gain possession again with 20 ticks showing. But Justin McKoy lost the ball while driving into the paint, and had to quickly foul reserve guard Hunter McIntosh, who was scoreless at that point.

McIntosh cooly sank both free throws with 9.7 seconds left to extend the lead to 70-66, and the Warriors called timeout after advancing the ball past halfcourt. But before they could run a play, McClanahan got stuck and was called for a double dribble with 4.2 ticks remaining, and Kenan Blackshear then swished two free throws to seal the victory.

“Great college basketball game, great to be part of, (but) disappointed in the loss,” Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot said. “I felt like we had a good flow going for most of the game … but credit to (Nevada). They’re great, and the reason teams are great is because they’re balanced. They are a great offensive team with incredible firepower, they have experience, shooting, size … they take care of the ball, and they’re one of the better defensive teams in the country, and one of the better rebounding teams.

“I thought we were in a good flow offensively against that, I thought we had a good game plan, I think we defended them really well, I think we did a good job on the glass. That will help us moving forward, if we use this experience right. I’m proud of our team and I expect us to use it right.”

The first half was tight and the Warriors led, 37-36, at intermission.

Reserve forward K.J. Hymes converted a three-point play to put the Wolf Pack up, 41-38, but da Silva answered with a layup to cut it to 41-40. But three minutes into the second half, da Silva was whistled for his third foul and backup center Mor Seck also picked up his third foul just 90 seconds later.

In the meantime, Nevada stepped up its ball pressure on defense, forcing back-to-back turnovers, and stretched the lead to 50-42 on Tre Coleman’s three-point play with 13:15 remaining.

“We just gotta be smarter, just a few dumb fouls,” da Silva said. “We gotta be smarter, that way Mor and me can be able to stay in the game. I feel like we picked up a few silly fouls. We just gotta be more disciplined.”

UH clawed back and eventually tied it at 59-59 on Coleman’s driving layup with 5:38 left, and it was tied again at 62-62 after da Silva’s layup two minutes later. Lucas then put the Wolf Pack ahead for good at 64-62 with a perimeter jump shot at the three-minute mark, and 6-foot-6 point guard Blackshear made it 68-65 on a layup with 1:11 remaining.

McClanahan then sank one of two free throws to close it to 68-66 with 50 seconds left, but turnovers on the Warriors’ next two possessions doomed the full comeback.

“That’s where we gotta work to get better, in those crunch times, taking care of the ball,” Noel Coleman said. “Once we figure that out, that’s going to take us to where we want to be. But right now, we’re not there yet.”

UH and Nevada will both have a short break before starting play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Thursday.

Nevada will open tournament play against Temple at 10 a.m. Thursday; Hawai’i faces Portland at 6 p.m.

“We fell short (against the Wolf Pack), we’re very disappointed in that,” Ganot said. “(But) we’re not going to sit there and pout. We’re going to take a day to recharge, have good practices and keep improving. We have improved. We need to continue to use that approach to keep improving.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Theme Blog Explorer by Kantipur Themes