The Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team is sure glad to see the month of January come to an end.
The Wolf Pack saw its losing streak reach six games on Saturday with a 63-55 loss to the Wyoming Cowboys in Laramie, Wyo. The Pack won its first two games in January but lost its last six to fall to 6-14 overall and 2-6 in the Mountain West. Wyoming is now 18-4 overall and on top of the conference at 7-2.
This is just the second Wolf Pack season since 1970-71 that has included two separate losing streaks of six games or longer. The 1999-2000 team had two six-game losing streaks. The 1970-71 Wolf Pack had three long losing streaks of eight, six and nine games and finished 3-23 overall. This year’s Wolf Pack team lost eight in a row earlier this year.
The Wolf Pack, though, stayed right with the Cowboys in the first 10 minutes. Lucas Stivrins, who made a rare start and played 17 minutes with six points, scored on a jumper to tie the game at 6-6 with 16:27 to go and had a layup to give the Pack a 10-8 lead with just under 15 minutes to play in the half. Kaileb Rodriguez had a jumper for a 12-11 Pack lead two minutes later and Ronnie Stevens hit a short jumper in the lane for a 14-13 lead with 10:02 to go in the first quarter.
That was the Pack’s last lead of the game. The Wolf Pack led for just 3:59 of the game and never by more than two points. Wyoming led for nearly 35 minutes and by as much as 13 (midway through the second half).
Larry Nance, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, three assists and six turnovers in a very active 31 minutes, had a dunk for a 21-18 Wyoming lead with 5:11 to go in the opening half. Josh Adams then hit a 3-pointer as the Cowboys took a 24-18 lead. The Cowboys also closed the first half with five points in the last 23 seconds to take a 33-23 lead at the break. Riley Grabau was fouled on a 3-pointer and converted all three free throws with 23 seconds to go and Alan Herndon scored his only two points of the game on a jumper at the halftime buzzer.
Tyron Criswell, with 13 points at the break, was the only reliable Pack player on offense in the first 20 minutes. Five key Pack players — A.J. West, Eric Cooper, Marqueze Coleman, D.J. Fenner and Michael Perez — all failed to score a single point in the first half in 53 combined minutes.
West, though, came alive in the second half to finish with 15 points. His lay-up, off a feed from Criswell, cut Wyoming’s lead to 35-29 with 18:12 to go. A 3-pointer by Cooper pulled the Pack to within 40-32 with 17:05 to go. The Wolf Pack offense, though, then went into another deep freeze. The Pack failed to score over the next five and half minutes until West converted two free throws with 11:31 to go.
West’s two free throws, however, started the Wolf Pack on a 9-0 run. The junior center scored the first six points of the run on four free throws and a layup and Perez capped it with a 3-pointer (his only three points of the game) as the Pack trailed just 45-41 with 9:42 to go.
Grabau had a key 3-pointer for a 48-41 Wyoming lead with 9:09 left but the Pack kept chipping away as Criswell hit a jumper to cut Wyoming’s lead to just 50-47 with 5:56 left.
The Cowboys, though, would hold the Pack to just eight points over the final six minutes to secure the victory.
Nance had a dunk with 3:14 left as Wyoming took a 53-47 lead. It would be the Cowboys last successful field goal of the game as their final 10 points all came from the free throw line.
Wyoming had a decided edge from the line, making 21-of-26 while the Pack was just 11-of-14. The Wolf Pack was called for eight more fouls (19-11) but the bulk of the difference (seven fouls in the last 2:22) came when the Wolf Pack was forced to foul down the stretch.
The Pack struggled once again from 3-point range, making just 2-of-11 (Cooper was 1-of-6 on threes). Grabau was 3-of-5 on threes and finished with 18 points for Wyoming. Derek Cooke added 14 points and 10 rebounds and Josh Adams had 13 points for the Cowboys.
Criswell led the Wolf Pack with 17 points and also had three rebounds, four assists and a steal. West had 15 points and seven rebounds but did not have a block. He was controlled on the boards by Nance, who had 10 rebounds. Nance also had more offensive rebounds than West (4-3), the nation’s leader in offensive rebounding. Wyoming also had more offensive rebounds than the Pack (12-9) and had an advantage in second chance points (16-8).
Coleman, Perez and Fenner, three key starters in the first two-plus months of the season until Cooper and Criswell were inserted into the starting lineup three games ago, were a combined 2-for-15 from the floor with six points.
The Wolf Pack will take on San Diego State Wednesday night (7 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center.