The Cowboys (12-6, 2-3 MW) dropped their first home contest of the season on Saturday afternoon falling to Nevada (15-3, 4-1 MW) 89-74 on Saturday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium. The two teams combined for 71 free throw attempts with 49 of those attempts coming in the second half.
“I told the team after the game that I thought they (Nevada) played more to their identity than we did to ours, particularly on the defensive end of the floor,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “I thought our edge and our ability to hustle to chase down 80/20 basketballs wasn’t has strong has it has been. We had a few guys watching for other guys to make the plays. I tell our team every day that whether shots are going in or not, we have to be a team that hangs their hat on the defensive end of the floor.”
The Cowboys struggled from the field on the night shooting 33 percent going 20-of-61. UW shot 21 percent from behind the arc connecting on seven of 33 attempts. The Pokes were solid from the line hitting 27-of-34 attempts for 79 percent, as both were season highs. The Wolf Pack, who came into the game ranking 10th in the league in free throw shooting and shot 84 percent going 31-of-37.
UW was led in scoring by Alexander Aka Gorski. He tied a career-high with 20 points. He is averaging 16.6 points per game in MW play through five games. Junior forward Hayden Dalton added 13 points with nine points coming from the free throw line. Junior forward Alan Herndon poured in 12 points with sophomore guard Justin James adding 11 to go along with a team-high six rebounds.
“Looking at the stat sheet, Alex (Aka Gorski) did make some good shots, but what I would like to relay to our guys is that regardless of making shots we have to be a team that takes it personally on the defensive end of the floor and then finish each defensive stop with rebounds,” Edwards said,
The Wolf Pack were led in scoring by guard Marcus Marshall, as he had a game-high 32 points. He was 14-of-15 from the free throw line and scored 25 points in the second half. Forwards Cameron Oliver and Jordan Caroline each recorded double-doubles for Nevada. Caroline had 13 points and 16 boards with Oliver adding 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Nevada shot 50 percent from the field in the second half and finished the contest going 26-of-64 for 41 percent. They also grabbed 49 rebounds on the night to the Pokes’ 35.
“When you look at the rebound margin tonight -- 49 to 36 in favor of Nevada, I thought that would be a huge key for us coming into this game -- limiting them to one shot and getting out on transition,” Edwards said. “We weren’t able to do that effectively enough tonight.”
Aka Gorski opened the game with back-to-back triples to give the Cowboys a 6-0 lead a minute into the contest. But the Wolf Pack responded back with a 12-0 run to take the 12-6 lead, as they held UW scoreless for nearly five minutes.
The Pokes responded with a 5-0 run of their own to make it a 12-11 contest at the 12:52 mark of the first half, as James led the Pokes with three points. The Pokes were held without a field goal for over three minutes, which allowed the Wolf Pack to build their lead to 20-14.
UW cut the deficit to two points at 20-18 with a layup after an offensive board from redshirt sophomore Andrew Moemeka. Nevada responded with a 6-0 run to take a 26-18 lead with under six minutes remaining in the frame.
Two straight dunks by junior guard Louis Adams kept the Cowboys within striking distance late in the first half, as the Pokes held Nevada to 1-10 from the field, but the Wolf Pack still had the lead 28-25. The Wolf Pack closed the half on a 10-5 run making three of their last four attempts to take a 39-31 lead into the break.
The Pokes cut into the Nevada lead in the second half to make it a 45-39 contests thanks to a steal and fast break and one layup by James. The Pokes continued the pressure both offensively and defensively holding Nevada scoreless for over four minutes and used a 10-0 run to tie the game at 45-45 with 14:16 remaining in the frame.
Nevada added a 6-0 run to take back the lead at 51-45 thanks to four-straight free throws and a layup. The Wolf Pack built their lead back to double-digits at the 11:30 mark of the half on a pair of free throws. Nevada maintained their lead with solid free throw shooting, as they finished the second half 27-of-30 for 90 percent.
The Pokes would cut the lead to seven points at the 5:39 mark on a three pointer from Herndon on a nice dish from Adams to make it a 69-63 game. The Wolf Pack used free throws once again and a three pointer to build their lead to a game-high to that point 15 with 3:37 remaining in the game.
The Cowboys try to establish an offensive rhythm late, but the Wolf Pack held on for the 89-74 win, as they have won three-straight games against the Cowboys.
UW returns to action on Wednesday heading to San Jose State for an 8 p.m. start.