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Nevada crumbles in second half, loses to Santa Clara 96-74

NCAA Basketball: Nevada at San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

A dominant second half from the Santa Clara Broncos fueled their 96-74 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack on Tuesday at Leavey Center in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Broncos, who trailed by three at halftime, outscored Nevada by 25 points — 57-32 — in the second half, including 39-17 in the final 11:11 of the game. Santa Clara hit only four 3s on 13 attempts (30.8 percent) in the second half, but shot 21-of-26 (58.3 percent). It had 30 second-half points in the paint — 48 on the game.

Nevada shot 39.1 percent from the floor — 37.5 percent in the second half — and 46.1 percent from 3-point range.

Grant Sherfield led Nevada with a team-high 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, adding a team-high six assists. Desmond Cambridge, who had just five points against San Diego, had 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting and 4-of-9 from deep.

AJ Bramah, who missed last game due to still being in concussion protocol, had 11 points and tied Kenan Blackshear for a team-high six rebounds, shooting 3-of-12.

Santa Clara shot 52.9 percent and 38.5 percent (10-26) from beyond the arc.

Parker Braun had 19 points — 15 coming in the second half — on a near-perfect 9-of-10 shooting, in addition to six rebounds and three blocks. Keshawn Justice and Jalen Williams added 18 points apiece.

Justice shot 5-of-11 with four 3s, a team-most eight boards with three assists; Williams shot 7-for-14 with five rebounds and five assists, tying a team high. Former Green Bay transfer P.J. Pipes added all 12 of his points in the second half, knocking down four of his 12 shot attempts.

The Broncos finished with a 41-36 advantage on the glass; Nevada moves to 9-15 under head coach Steve Alford when it’s been out-rebounded.

The Pack drops to 1-2 on the season with two straight losses to teams in the West Coast Conference. Santa Clara improves to 3-0 with an average margin-of-victory of 15 points.

Nevada began with a 9-0 run — courtesy of three 3-pointers from Sherfield, Baker and Cambridge on four total attempts. Santa Clara responded with a 13-2 that included three early triples from Justice.

Bramah’s second-chance finish tied it at 18 with 12:26 left in the first half. Henry’s five straight points put the Pack ahead 30-25. The Broncos re-trimmed it to one with Jalen Williams’ layup, bringing it to 37-36.

The Pack went into halftime ahead 42-39 behind Sherfield’s 10 points. Nevada shot 40.5 percent, including 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc while Santa Clara shot 47.1 percent and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from deep.

The Broncos opened the second half with an 11-2 run — widening it to 50-44 with 16:16 left. Back-to-back triples from Blackshear and Sherfield knotted it up at 50, prompting a Bronco timeout.

An 11-0 run — capped by eight straight from Pipes — put the Broncos ahead 68-57 with 8:55 remaining, their first double digit lead of the evening.

Williams’ one-handed alley-oop flush from Pipes widened it to 80-62 — forcing a Steve Alford timeout. It marked a 23-5 run, with Nevada clanking seven of its nine field goals and Santa Clara knocking nine of 10 over that span.

After Cambridge’s layup closed the deficit to 12 with four minutes to go, the Broncos closed on a 12-2 run. The Wolf Pack did not score a final point in the final 2:43.

Next up: The Pack will take cap off its home-road challenge with the San Francisco Dons on Thursday, which was postponed to this year due to COVID-19 travel complications last year. Nevada will square off with former Pack forward Zane Meeks.