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Nevada Basketball: Wolf Pack survives challenge from Santa Clara

Nevada got all they could handle from Santa Clara but the Wolf Pack survived and defeated the Broncos 72-69.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada Wolf Pack survived a challenge from Santa Clara as they defeated the Broncos 72-69 in Reno on Friday night. This was a closely contested game that featured 14 lead changes and nine ties and the biggest lead either team had was eight points.

Nevada was up early in the second half by a score of 49-41 when the Broncos went on a 13-4 scoring run to take a 54-53 lead. Santa Clara went on a 5-0 scoring run to extend their lead to 58-53 but a Cameron Oliver dunk and a pair of free throws by Oliver (11 points, ten rebounds) tied the game up at 58-58. And the game from that point continued to be a seesaw battle until the 2:26 mark of the game with the score tied at 67-67, Marqueze Coleman (18 points, 7-7 from the free throw line) got fouled and made the layup and after completing the three-point play, the Wolf Pack went up by a score of 70-67.

Then, a Jared Brownridge (29 points, six assists) field goal cut Nevada's lead to 70-69 and after a DJ Fenner (17 points, eight rebounds) turnover, the Broncos had a chance to retake the lead. On Santa Clara's next possession, Brownridge missed the jumper and Cameron Oliver grabbed the rebound and was fouled where he made both of his free throws to give the Wolf Pack a 72-69 lead. With ten seconds left to go in the game, the Broncos had a chance to tie the game but both KJ Feagin and Jared Brownridge missed their three point attempts in the final seconds and the Wolf Pack survived.

The win came with a price as the Wolf Pack lost guard Tyron Criswell (three points, four rebounds) to an injury as he banged his left knee hard against the court in the first half. According to Coach Musselman, a MRI will be done on Criswell's knee but it looks like he will miss some time which will be costly for a Wolf Pack team that likes to play small and use Criswell as one of the four guards that they use in that lineup.

With the win, the Wolf Pack improve to 8-3 for the year and will have a chance to match the number of wins they had last year as they face the Wichita State Shockers on Tuesday.