Fans, or no fans, excitement buzzed throughout Viejas Arena in the waning moments Saturday evening.
A game-winning floater as time expired from San Diego State guard Trey Pulliam gave the San Diego State Aztecs a 69-67 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Nevada guard Grant Sherfield nailed a game-tying 3-pointer with six seconds to go. Pulliam traveled the length of the court with no resistance and hoisted up the floater off the glass for the thrilling victory.
Pulliam finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting with three assists.
Saturday’s loss drops Nevada falls to 8-5 with a 3-3 Mountain West record. San Diego State improves to 9-2 with a 3-1 conference record. The Pack have an 9-game losing streak inside Viejas Arena, which dates back to 1998.
Nevada shot 45.3 percent from the floor and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Grant Sherfield posted a team-high 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 3-of-8 from deep. He also added team-highs in assists (9) and steals (3). Cambridge tallied 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 3-of-8 from deep.
Production in the Pack starting frontcourt was limited due to foul trouble, as starters Zane Meeks and Warren Washington combined for 23 minutes with seven fouls (Washington - 3, Meeks - 4). Washington, who has averaged over 21 minutes over the last nien games, played in just seven of those minutes, finishing scoreless (on one attempts) with two rebounds.
KJ Hymes was a stabilizer in the frontcourt, adding a season-high 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and 4-of-5 from the free throw line with a block.
San Diego State shot 43.4 percent with a 31.8 3-point percentage.
Matt Mitchell led the team in scoring with 20 points on 4-of-7 shooting, knocking down all 11 of his free throw attempts. He hauled-in a team-most eight rebounds with three assists. Nathan Mensah added 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting with six rebounds.
It was apparent early that the Aztecs’ game plan was dominating down low, which was effective throughout the game, hence the foul trouble among the starting frontcourt. They totaled 28 points in the paint — two more than it did Thursday — in the winning effort.
Schakel’s layup gave the Aztecs an early 14-4 with 13:17 left in the opening half. Eight of their first 14 points were in the paint.
The Wolf Pack missed 11 of their first 14 shot attempts, while SDSU netted seven of its first 14.
Sherfield’s 4-point play conversion capped-off a 10-2 run to cut the Aztec lead to 16-14. He tallied 10 of Nevada’s first 14 points.
Mitchell’s layup widened the lead to 27-20 with 5:11 remaining in the half. Cambridge’s first bucket came with 4:07 remaining in the opening half on a catch-and-shoot look from outside.
A fastbreak layup by Nevada’s Robby Robinson after a Cambridge steal cut SDSU’s lead to 31-27 with 3:46 remaining. The Pack tied it at 31 with :34 seconds left after a Kane Milling layup, but Mitchell’s 3-pointer in the final seconds awarded SDSU with the 34-31 lead heading into halftime.
In the first half, Nevada shot 40.0 percent from the floor and 30.0 percent from 3-point range. Its defense held San Diego State netted 41.9 percent of their shots and just 4-of-16 (25 percent) of its shots from beyond the arc.
Meeks’ 3-point basket gave Nevada their first lead, 41-39, with 15:08 left in the contest. The Aztecs followed with a 14-4 run — finished off by Pulliam’s steal-and-score — prompting a Pack timeout.
After the lead was widened to nine, two quick Wolf Pack baskets trimmed the SDSU lead to 60-56.
Nevada forward KJ Hymes lifted a left-handed hook over Matt Mitchell with 54 seconds left. Jordan Schakel, who led the Mountain West in 3-point percentage (.462), drilled his only 3-pointer on the evening with 35 seconds left to give the Aztecs a 65-62 lead.
Hymes and Mensah traded free throws, making it 67-64 with 17 seconds left. Sherfield’s 3-pointer would have sent it into overtime, but Pulliam’s quickness, with porous Pack defense, iced the Aztec victory as the buzzer sounded.
After a four-game road trip, the Pack travel home for a two-game set against the Fresno State Bulldogs. The series starts Friday, Jan. 15. Tip-off will be at 8 p.m. PST on Fox Sports 1.
San Diego State travels to Logan, Utah, to take on the Utah State Aggies beginning on Thursday. The game will be at 6 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network.
Cambridge’s first basket cuts the lead to 29-25 with 4:07 remaining!! pic.twitter.com/C0r2RQTeVA— Pack Center (@PackCenterNV) January 10, 2021