It took nearly half of the season, but the young Nevada Wolf Pack (5-13, 2-3 in the WC) took a step in the right direction Saturday night when they defeated the Boise State Broncos (11-7,4-2), 69-67, on the road for their first win away from Lawlor Events Center since March of last year. Freshman Deontè Burton led the way for David Carter’s club with a game-high 20 points.
Burton also added 3 steals, 3 assists and 3 rebounds, backing up his career-high 23 point effort last Wednesday night against Idaho. Burton went 8-for-11 from the free throw line, and kept his Wolf Pack team in the game when Boise State, a team with nearly a half-dozen seniors amongst its top scorers, needed him the most. Burton was relentless in attacking the rim.
Learning to win on the road is no easy task, especially with a team who lists 10 of its top 11 scorers as newcomers.
“We needed someone to step up and tonight that was Deont,” Coach Carter said about his outstanding freshman point guard.
Since their last road win on March 17, 2010 the Pack has gone 0-for-10 in games played outside the friendly confines of the LEC. Most of the contests have been very close games, with many slipping away late in the second half as Nevada showed their undeniable youth. They would have to overcame a some obstacles tonight, and for the first time on the road they did.
Nevada had to show some grit as junior center Dario Hunt was besieged with foul trouble once again. The Pack’s only returning starter, Hunt played just twenty minutes. However, he did contribute a solid 12 points and eight rebounds in those minutes. Still, the team had to find a way to win with him off the court. Hunt fouled out for the fourth consecutive game.
The Pack used the deep ball to spread the floor and outrebounded the Broncos by a margin of 36-29 to put the home team on their heels. In the first half Nevada outshot Boise State 41 percent to 28 percent and used the poor three-point shooting (25%) of the Broncos to take a 33-28 halftime lead.
Coach Carter expected pressure from the Bronco guards and that pressure led to 17 Nevada turnovers, but that wasn’t enough to stop the Pack. Down the stretch it was Boise State who had to foul Nevada for an opportunity to get into the game as they even had a chance to steal the game at the end.
The only mistake Burton made came with :24 seconds left in the game. The former L.A. prep star could have sank a pair of free throws that would have locked the game up but Burton missed both shots and gave the Broncos a second chance. Daequon Montreal had a chance to tie the game at 67, but missed badly on the three pointer that they needed.
Czyz collected that rebound and coolly sank his free throws. Once Czyz collected the final inbound pass with less than a second left it was all over as the Pack finally went on the road and grinded out a win. Czyz finished with 11 points and has scored in double figures in six straight games.
Up next for Nevada is a three game homestand starting Thursday night against the reigning WAC tournament champion, New Mexico State Aggies. They will follow that with a game Saturday against La. Tech and close out the homestand on the 27th against Fresno State. It is a chance to support the Pack and help get Nevada back towards the top of the standings.