The difference of 24 hours proved to be night-and-day for the Nevada Wolf Pack at the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Nevada — who lost by a season-high 27 points on Monday paired with dismissing one of its top offseason transfer acquisitions, AJ Bramah, Tuesday morning — walloped the George Mason Patriots 88-69 behind a pair of statement performances from All-Mountain West guards Grant Sherfield and Desmond Cambridge.
The pairing, regarded as one of the nation’s top backcourts, combined for 52 of Nevada’s 88 points. Sherfield tallied a career-high 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. It marked his first career 30-point game, surpassing his previous career best of 29 set on Feb. 7 against Boise State.
Sherfield also recorded team-highs in rebounds (6) and assists (6) with one steal. Cambridge had 21 points, knocking down nine of his 20 field goal attempts with three 3-pointers and a team-high three steals.
The Wolf Pack, who led by five at halftime, outscored the Patriots 52-38 in the second half — shooting 57.7 percent with seven 3s (on 13 attempts) in the final 20 minutes.
On the night, Nevada shot 52.6 percent from the floor against 35.7 percent (10-28) from 3-point range. Entering Tuesday, George Mason surrendered more than 70 points just once (Washington - 77), holding its first six opponents to 63.5 points per game with a sub-40.0 percent field goal percentage.
Nevada’s Kenan Blackshear provided quality minutes off the bench, finishing with a season-high 12 points, five rebounds and six assists, tying Sherfield. Alem Huseinovic recorded a season-high eight points on 4-of-6 shooting with three rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench as well.
The win snapped the Pack’s four-game losing streak, their first four-game drought since starting 1-7 to begin the 2010-11 season. They improve to 2-4 while the Patriots drop their third straight, falling to 4-3.
George Mason shot 37.5 percent and 22.9 percent from 3-point range — both season lows
Davonte Gaines tallied a season-high 17 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 8-of-10 from the free-throw line. He grabbed a team-most seven boards with two steals in 31 minutes.
Josh Oduro, the team’s top scorer (16.2 ppg), had 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five rebounds and a team-high three steals. DeVon Cooper added 13 points with five boards and two steals, going 3-for-12 from the floor.
The Wolf Pack finished with 32 points in the paint while giving up only 22, a problem that’s plagued them off-and-on to begin their 2021-22 campaign. They also converted for 19 points off George Mason’s 14 turnovers; GMU turned Nevada’s 11 turnovers into just nine points.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Cambridge gave Nevada the early 10-4 lead.
The Patriots took 10 of their first 14 field goal attempts from deep, missing nine of those 10 attempts. Sherfield’s three-point play conversion widened the Pack’s lead to 20-11 with 10:27 left in the first half. Cooper’s 3-pointer trimmed it to 24-22.
Cambridge’s fastbreak layup prompted a Patriot timeout, putting the Pack ahead 34-30 with 1:57 remaining in the opening half.
Nevada entered halftime with the 36-31 lead, shooting 48.4 percent, despite a rough 3-of-15 (20.0 percent) from 3-point range; George Mason had a sluggish shooting start, hitting just 32.3 percent of its shots, including 4-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Cambridge and Sherfield combined for two-thirds of the Pack’s 36 points, tallying 12 apiece. Both teams had seven turnovers and seven points-off-turnovers at the break.
The Patriots opened the first 2:44 on a 7-0 run to tie it at 41 — capped by Schwartz’s second-chance finish — though Sherfield quickly responded with a triple on the other end.
It didn’t look back. Blackshear’s corner triple extended it to 49-43. After the Patriots cut it to 53-50, Nevada exploded on a 19-4 run that lasted 4:16. Baker’s triple followed by Sherfield’s three-point play widened it to 61-50 — the Pack’s first double figure lead of the night. Blackshear’s 3-pointer extended it to 72-54.
Cambridge’s flashy 360 finish gave Nevada the 80-61 lead with 4:42 remaining — the dazzling clincher.
Next up: Nevada seeks its first win streak of the season tomorrow, when it will take on the Washington Huskies at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN+. It will be the Pack’s final game of the Crossover Classic.