Nevada nips New Mexico 79-72 to start MW Tourney; Wolf Pack gets top seed Boise St. next

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 8:07 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Nevada Athletics) - Nevada survived and advanced at the 2022 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Championship Wednesday, defeating New Mexico, 79-72, in first-round action.

Grant Sherfield posted his fifth double-double of the season, going for 27 points and 10 rebounds, to lead Nevada (13-17), which will face top-seeded Boise State at noon in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Eight-straight Nevada points over a span of less than two minutes early in the second half turned a one-point Pack deficit into a seven-point lead at 50-43. Desmond Cambridge Jr. heated up for the Pack, scoring nine of his 14 points in the second half, with his 3-pointer capping the 8-0 run.

Nevada shot 56.0 percent in the second half, including going 5-for-9 from deep. New Mexico, meanwhile, cooled off significantly, going from 52.0 percent in the opening half to just 30.3 percent over the final 20 minutes.

Trailing 35-34 at the break, the Pack inched its way in front over the first four minutes of the second half, then never trailed again after the 8-0 run. Another Cambridge Jr. triple got the lead up to nine at 67-58 with just over five minutes to go, then a pair of Warren Washington free throws made it 71-61 a minute later.

The Pack defense bent a bit, but held firm enough over a final New Mexico rush in the final minutes. Jaelen House, who led four Lobos in double figures with 19 points Wednesday, scored six-straight points to whittle a nine-point Nevada lead to three at 73-70 with 1:10 remaining.

But Sherfield would score six of the Pack’s final eight points, and Nevada got stops on the final two New Mexico possessions to close it out.

House went 10-for-11 from the line in the contest, also dishing out seven assists. But it was New Mexico foul trouble in the first half, including three from House, which gave Nevada time to recover from a slow start. House had a stretch of scoring six-straight points, including a four-point play, with six minutes left in the opening half to get New Mexico (13-19) up by as many as nine.

But House picked up his third foul with four minutes left, going to the bench. The Pack responded with a 9-1 run to close to within one, and had Sherfield score its final four points of the half to go into the locker room down just a point.

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