5:00 PM ET, March 5, 2005
San Jose State Event Center, San Jose, CA
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Nevada was jet-lagged and apathetic, seemingly looking for any reason to slip up in its regular season finale -- until Nick Fazekas reminded his teammates that every game counts toward NCAA tournament success.Fazekas had 28 points and eight rebounds, and the 25th-ranked Wolf Pack rallied from a big early deficit for their 10th straight victory, 73-69 over San Jose State on Saturday.Nevada (24-5, 16-2 Western Athletic Conference) felt much more relief than elation after becoming the first team to go unbeaten on the road in WAC play since Utah did it in 1999.After clinching its second straight conference title in Hawaii on Thursday night, Nevada had trouble getting up for its stopover in San Jose on the way back to the conference tournament next week in Reno, where the Wolf Pack will be the top seed.But after Fazekas and the team leaders spoke up at halftime, the powerful Pack perked up just enough to win again."Coming from paradise, it's tough," Fazekas said. "We won the WAC title over there, and probably in a lot of our minds, it was like, 'Well, what does this game really mean?' It means a lot. It looks really good to the NCAA that we're 10-0 on the road in our last 10."It was a really bad game for us. Especially in the first half, we couldn't play defense to save our lives."Mo Charlo scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half for the Wolf Pack, who are headed to the conference tournament on their longest winning streak since the 1965-66 season. But Nevada trailed by 15 points in the first half before recovering for a narrow win over the WAC's last-place team.Ramon Sessions had 11 points and seven assists for the Wolf Pack, who know they'll need much better efforts to repeat last season's NCAA tournament success. Nevada, ranked for the first time in school history, reached the third round last season.First-year coach Mark Fox will seize on this lackluster performance in practice next week leading up to the tournaments."I did a terrible job getting them ready to play," Fox said. "(But) we thought this would be a very difficult game, because of our travel and because Marquin Chandler might be the most talented player in the league. Playing him on his Senior Day, I thought, would be tough."Chandler scored 25 points in his final home game for the Spartans (6-22, 3-15), and he converted a three-point play with 1:34 left to tie it at 66. But Fazekas made a difficult bank shot and Charlo hit two free throws with 39.6 seconds left, helping Nevada hold on for its sixth straight win over San Jose State."We made a big push, and there were just a few plays here and there that we didn't get," Chandler said. "Everybody on my team never gives up. That's one thing I stress to everybody."Alex Elam had 16 points and eight assists before fouling out for San Jose State, which finished the regular season with 10 straight losses. Coach Phil Johnson is widely expected to leave after three straight losing seasons, though no announcement is expected until next week.After one last loss, Johnson was in a reflective mood."Just walking and talking to my team, sure -- just thinking about what we could have done differently during the season," he said. "I'm sure tonight, I'll be thinking about what we could have done differently during this game."San Jose State took a 36-21 lead with 1:42 left in the half on back-to-back 3-pointers by Elam. Chandler, Fazekas and Nevada's Kevinn Pinkney were watched by eight NBA scouts, including Sacramento Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie.Nevada then made a 15-2 run spanning halftime, taking the lead on Fazekas' free throws with 11:18 to play -- but the Wolf Pack never led by more than five points until the final seconds.Fazekas, the conference's leading scorer, will wear a clear protective mask for the rest of the season after breaking his nose last week in a win at Fresno State. He scored 15 points in the first half, but Charlo carried the Wolf Pack in the closing minutes."We didn't know what we were capable of (this season)," Charlo said. "I don't think anybody did. We just dedicated ourselves to playing our best in every game."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-55 (.473)||28-59 (.475)|
|3P Made-Attempted||1-5 (.200)||6-20 (.300)|
|FT Made-Attempted||20-29 (.690)||7-10 (.700)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||12 (0/0)||22 (0/0)|