Wolf Pack wins season opener 77-63 over Sacramento State

Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 12:13 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (Nevada Athletics) - Jarod Lucas scored a game-high 18 points, and four different Pack players reached double figures in scoring, as the Nevada Men’s Basketball team used a complete team effort on offense combined with a stout defensive performance to earn a 77-63 victory over Sacramento State in their season-opening contest.

With the win, Nevada has now won four consecutive season-opening contests dating back to the 2020-21 season.

Nevada was stellar on defense throughout the contest, limiting Sacramento State to just 63 points on an abysmal 37.1 percent shooting from the field. The Pack also out-rebounded Sacramento State 40-37, and Nevada forced the Hornets into 13 turnovers, which the Pack turned into 16 points on the other end of the court.

Lucas led the way for the Pack offensively, picking up right where he left off last season with an 18-point outing against the Hornets. Lucas knocked down 9-9 shots from the free throw line, and he matched a career-high by dishing out four assists, in addition to pulling down four rebounds and tallying one steal.

Hunter McIntosh was exceptional throughout the game for the Pack, scoring 12 points on 5-8 shooting from the field and 2-3 from behind the arc. McIntosh finished the contest with a game-high plus/minus of +13 in 26 minutes of action.

After finishing the first half with 0 points, Kenan Blackshear turned in a dominant performance over the final 20 minutes, scoring 14 points on 6-8 shooting from the field. The fifth-year senior tallied seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block in addition to the 14 points scored throughout the game.

Nick Davidson was the fourth Pack player to reach double figures in scoring, putting up 10 points on 3-5 shooting from the field and a perfect 4-4 at free throw line, while also pulling down five rebounds in the contest.

Despite only scoring four points, senior forward Tre Coleman had a tremendous impact on the game, dishing out four assists and tallying a game-high three steals. Coleman finished the contest with an outstanding plus/minus of +12.

Nevada received a tremendous boost from its bench Tuesday night, as Jazz Gardner and Daniel Foster made significant contributions in the game. Gardner scored seven points on 3-6 shooting from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc, and Foster scored six points on 3-4 shooting from the field.

First Half

Nevada began the game in strong fashion, as Coleman found K.J. Hymes in the paint, who proceeded to finish a tough layup at the rim while drawing a foul, putting the Pack up 2-0 just over 11 seconds into the game.

The two squads went back and forth for the first 12 minutes of the half, before Nevada ripped off a 7-0 run beginning with a McIntosh jumper that propelled Nevada to a 24-18 lead with 5:46 remaining in the period.

Sacramento State managed to trim the Pack’s lead to three points two different times over the next 1:39; but, McIntosh drained a 3-pointer off a pass from Lucas and after a stop on the other end of the court, Foster finished a tough layup in transition to put Nevada up 31-23.

The Hornets used a 7-2 run to cut the Pack’s lead to just three points with 57 seconds remaining; however, Lucas drilled a contested 3-pointer before Nevada forced a turnover. After the turnover, Lucas made a ridiculous mid-range jumper after getting fouled, going on to convert the and-one opportunity and give the Pack a 39-30 lead entering the half.

Nevada shot 40 percent from the field in the first period while limiting Sacramento State to 33.3 percent shooting. The Pack also managed to hold the lead for 14:26 of the first period.

Second Half

After Sacramento State finished a layup to open up the scoring in the second half, Nevada reeled off a 7-0 run over the next 3:08, as they took a 46-32 advantage over the Hornets.

The run began with a massive two-handed slam by Nick Davidson; and, after Lucas managed to get a steal on the other end, he made an exceptional pass to Coleman under the rim, who proceeded to finish a wide-open layup. After another defensive stop, Blackshear finished a driving layup at the rim. Hymes completed the run shortly after, knocking down a lone free throw.

Sacramento State trimmed the lead down to 11; but, Foster finished a difficult layup through contact, and Gardner drained the first 3-pointer of his career, giving the Pack a 55-39 advantage with 13:33 left in the game.

Just over three minutes later, Davidson knocked down a pair of free throws to put Nevada up 61-44 with 9:42 remaining, marking their largest lead of the contest.

Sacramento State battled back, reeling off a 12-0 run over the next 2:38 to trim the Pack’s lead to five points with just over seven minutes left in the game.

Both squads went scoreless over the next 54 seconds, before Blackshear converted an opportunity in the paint to put Nevada up by seven with 6:11 remaining. Blackshear hit two free throws less than a minute later to push Nevada’s lead up to nine; and, after a Sacramento State 3-pointer, Blackshear converted another tough bucket in the lane, as the Pack led 67-59 with 4:55 to go.

The Hornets cut Nevada’s lead to six on their next possession; but, the Pack put together a 10-2 run over the final 4:32 of the game, fueling them to the 77-63 victory.

Notable Stats:

  • Nevada’s bench outscored Sacramento State’s bench, 27-24.
  • The Pack was +6 in turnover margin.
  • Nevada tallied eight steals in the game.
  • Nine different Pack players scored in the contest.
  • Nevada pulled down 11 offensive rebounds throughout the game.
  • The Pack knocked 21-27 attempts at the free throw line (77.8%).
  • Nevada held the lead for 34:26 throughout the contest.
  • Jarod Lucas was a perfect 9-9 from the free-throw line.
  • Hunter McIntosh scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting in the first half alone.

Up Next

Nevada will return to the court this Sunday, November 12, as they are set to travel to Seattle, Washington to face Pac-12 foe Washington at 7 p.m.