The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum brought out the best in the Nevada Wolf Pack offense on Saturday night.
The Wolf Pack enjoyed one of its best shooting nights of the season, beating the Utah State Aggies 89-84 in front of a crowd of 9,654 in Logan, Utah. The Wolf Pack shot 49 percent from the floor (28-of-57), 45 percent on 3-pointers (10-of-22) and 82 percent from the line (23-of-28) in winning for the third time in a row on the road. The Wolf Pack is now 13-8 overall and in fifth place in the Mountain West at 5-4. Utah State fell to 11-9, 3-6.
Utah State led for much of the first six minutes of the game as Chris Smith gave the Aggies leads of 13-10 and 16-13 with 3-pointers. The Pack stayed close thanks to 3-pointers by D.J. Fenner (two) and Eric Cooper, which tied the game at 16-16. But the Aggies got three consecutive layups by Julion Pearre, Jalen Moore and Lew Evans to take a 22-16 lead with 10:32 to go in the first quarter.
The Wolf Pack then owned all of the momentum for the next three minutes, going on a 16-0 run to take a 32-22 lead with 7:21 to go. Tyron Criswell had eight points in the run thanks to a pair of 3-pointers. Cam Oliver had five on a three and a short jumper. Cooper also had a 3-pointer as the Wolf Pack converted six shots in a row. Another 3-pointer by Cooper gave the Pack a 35-25 lead with just over six minutes to go in the half and a layup and dunk by Criswell put the Pack up 49-33 with 1:41 to go.
The Pack led at halftime, 49-36. The Aggies, though, got hot in the second half.
A 3-pointer by Smith and a dunk by Moore cut the Pack lead to 59-52 with 15:36 to go in the game. Three-pointers by Shane Rector, Darius Perkins and Smith sliced the Pack advantage to just 68-64 with 9:36 left.
Fenner, who had a game-high 21 points, hit a 3-pointer for a 71-64 Pack lead with 9:23 to go and also had a jumper for a 73-65 lead a minute later. Rector, who had 16 points, had a 3-pointer and Evans had a layup as the Aggies pulled to within 75-72 with just under six minutes to go. Marqueze Coleman’s 3-pointer gave the Pack a 78-72 lead with 4:31 to go but a 3-point play by Elston Jones and a jumper by Rector tied the game at 78-78 with 2:53 left.
Coleman’s jumper with 2:53 to go would be the Pack’s last successful shot from the floor for the rest of the game. The Wolf Pack held off the Aggies from the free throw line, making 11-of-14 over the final four minutes. Coleman, who missed 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute of Tuesday night’s 57-54 loss to San Diego State at Lawlor Events Center, was 6-for-6 from the line down the stretch. Criswell also had three free throws.
Rector scored Utah State’s final eight points. After his jumper tied the game at 78-78 he had three layups in the final 17 seconds of the game. He cut the Pack’s leads to 84-80, 86-82 and 87-84. The Pack, though, always answered with free throws.
Coleman finished with 20 points, seven assists and three steals. Criswell had 19 points, six rebounds and three steals off the bench. Oliver had 16 points and 10 rebounds while Cooper had 13 points off the bench. The Wolf Pack bench, thanks to Cooper and Criswell, outscored the Aggies bench 32-12.
Moore had 17 points and six boards for Utah State. Smith finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Wolf Pack was 23-of-28 from the free throw line while Utah State was just 9-of-18. Utah State, though, also shot well from the floor, making 32-of-60 shots (53 percent) and 11-of-21 3-pointers.
San Diego State (9-0), New Mexico (6-2), Boise State (6-3) and Fresno State (5-3) are the teams ahead of the Pack in the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack will play at Colorado State on Feb. 6 before returning to Lawlor Events Center to face Air Force on Feb. 10 and Fresno State on Feb. 13.
The Wolf Pack’s 89 points are its most since a 119-70 win over Fresno Pacific on Dec. 9 and are also their most against a Division I opponent this season.