Defense helps Wolf Pack grind out win against UC San Diego 64-56

Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 1:19 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (Nevada Athletics) - Kenan Blackshear scored a game-high 19 points on just nine shots, Will Baker chipped in 17 of his own, and Jarod Lucas scored all 13 of his points in the second half, as the University of Nevada Men’s Basketball team earned a 64-56 victory over UC San Diego.

With the win, Nevada moves to 9-3 overall on the season, including a perfect record of 5-0 at the Lawlor Events Center.

Blackshear had another exceptional outing for the Pack, scoring 19 points on a stellar 7-9 shooting from the field, while also pulling down five rebounds, dishing out four assists, and recording a game-high two steals and two blocks. Over Nevada’s past three games, Blackshear has scored 61 points, marking the most points over a three-game stretch throughout his career.

Baker was dominant all night on the offensive end of the floor, putting up 17 points on 6-10 shooting from the field. Baker’s ability to be a three-level scorer was on full display throughout the evening, as the redshirt-junior continued to score at will in an abundance of ways during the game.

Lucas had a phenomenal second half for the Pack, putting up 13 points in the period on 4-7 shooting from the field and 4-5 from the free throw line.

Junior forward Tre Coleman had an all-around sensational performance for Nevada throughout the night, scoring nine points on 4-7 shooting, in addition to grabbing six rebounds, recording three assists, and earning one steal. Coleman also managed to limit UC San Diego’s leading scorer, Bryce Pope, to just 5-13 shooting from the field for the game, as Coleman once again displayed his phenomenal defensive abilities.

Freshman Darrion Williams led Nevada in rebounding in the game, pulling down 10 boards in the contest. Williams also finished the game tied for first on the team in plus/minus, as Nevada outscored UC San Diego by 11 points in 34 minutes while he was on the court.

The Pack had an immaculate defensive performance in the second half, limiting the Tritons to 35.7 percent shooting from the field, including an abysmal mark of 16.7 percent from three, as Nevada held them to just 22 points in the period.

First Half

After falling behind 3-0 to begin the game, Blackshear made a tough pull-up jump shot and then found Coleman in transition, who drained a 3-pointer, giving the Pack an early 5-3 advantage.

The two teams went back and forth over the next four minutes, and the Pack fell behind 11-10; but, they responded with a quick 5-0 run to take a four-point lead with 12 and a half minutes to go in the first half.

The back-and-forth play continued over the next seven minutes, as Nevada was unable to create separation from the Tritons, but the Pack never trailed over the stretch.

With just over five minutes remaining in the first half, UC San Diego recaptured the lead for the first time since the 13:08 mark, as they held a 23-22 advantage over the Pack. The Tritons outscored Nevada by four points throughout the remainder of the period, as Nevada trailed 29-34 at the break.

Second Half

Lucas scored back-to-back buckets to begin the second half, followed by a transition layup from Coleman, recapturing the lead for Nevada less than two minutes into the period.

Neither team led by more than two points over the next eight minutes of gametime, as both squads were unable to create separation from the other. With 10:22 to go in the game, Lucas knocked down two free throws to give Nevada a 47-44 lead.

UC San Diego was able to score on their next possession; however, Baker hit a jump shot in the paint to push the lead back to three. Nevada then forced UC San Diego into a bad shot, and Lucas hit another tough jump shot to extend the Pack’s lead to five, which was their largest lead of the contest at that point in time.

The Tritons cut the lead to just one point two different times over the next four minutes; but, Blackshear and Baker came up with massive buckets each time to prevent UC San Diego from retaking the lead while also killing their momentum.

After a Baker bucket in the paint gave Nevada a 55-52 lead with just 5:20 to play, the two teams went scoreless over the next minute and a half, before Lucas hit the biggest shot of the night –a 3-pointer in transition– giving the Pack a six-point advantage with 3:30 to play.

Nevada shut down UC San Diego over the final three and a half minutes of action, as they went on to secure the 64-56 victory.

Notable Stats:

  • Nevada’s 9-3 start marks Head Coach Steve Alford’s best start through 12 games in his four seasons at the helm of the program.
  • Nevada outrebounded UC San Diego, 39-32.
  • The Pack recorded 12 assists on 22 made field goals.
  • Nevada outscored the Tritons in transition, 11-2.
  • Nevada held the lead for over 27 minutes throughout the game.
  • Darrion Williams has now tallied double-digit rebounds in four games this season.
  • Tre Coleman’s six rebounds and four assists matched his previous season highs.
  • Over Nevada’s past three games, Kenan Blackshear is averaging 20.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game.
  • Will Baker finished the contest with a plus/minus of +11 in 26 minutes of play.

Up Next

Nevada returns to the court next Wednesday, December 21, as they are set to host Norfolk State at 2 p.m.