The San Diego State Aztecs held off the Nevada Wolf Pack with a nail-biting 65-63 win at Viejas Arena Sunday. Nevada has now lost five straight for the first time all season and has suffered its first five-game conference losing streak since 2014-15.
In their last four meetings, San Diego State has outscored the Pack by just 16 points.
The shorthanded Wolf Pack, who without two of its top players for the third straight game, trailed by one with 5:14 remaining. A pair of Matt Bradley free throws followed by Nathan Mensah’s slam widened the Aztec advantage to 62-57 with 2:59 remaining.
After corraling three offensive rebounds in one possession, Nevada’s Desmond Cambridge — who finished with a team-most 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting, buried his fourth triple of the evening to cut it to two.
Another Cambridge triple with 19 seconds remaining off a beautifully designed play from Nevada head coach Steve Alford trimmed the deficit to 64-63. Bradley split a pair of free throws with under 10 seconds remaining, but Nevada’s Will Baker was unable to get the corner 3-pointer off in time in the final moments after incidentally stepping out of bounds for the second time on the afternoon — icing SDSU’s 10th straight home victory over the Wolf Pack.
Bradley had a dominant second half, scoring or assisting on 18 of the Aztecs’ 37 second-half points. He was the team’s only double figure scorer, adding 26 points — the fourth time he’s scored at least 26 points in Mountain West play thus far — with seven rebounds and three assists.
Nevada, without both Grant Sherfield (foot), one of the best point guards in the Mountain West, and starting center Warren Washington (hand), shot 44.2 percent and a season-best 52.6 percent (10-19) from 3-point range.
Cambridge’s five triples came one shy of tying a season high. Baker totaled 14 points on a near perfect 6-of-8 shooting, tying Cambridge for a team-most eight rebounds. Kenan Blackshear posted double-digit scoring for his third straight outing, tallying 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting while dishing out a Pack-high six assists, tying a season high.
San Diego State shot 40.4 percent and 28.6 percent from deep. Trey Pulliam contributed with nine points and three assists; Keshad Johnson had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting with five boards; Joshua Tomaic, who played 21 minutes due to Mensah’s early foul trouble, also grabbed five boards while adding eight points.
Sunday’s win rewards the Aztecs with their 14th straight coming off a loss, moving to 13-6 with a 4-3 conference record; Nevada, falling to 1-11 in Quad 1 or 2 games this season, drops to 9-12 and 3-7 in conference action.
Tre Coleman’s steal-and-score followed by Cambridge’s triple gave Nevada the early 15-5 lead; Nevada made its first six shots.
Baker’s emphatic one-handed jam widened the Pack’s lead to 22-9 with 12:46 remaining in the first half, prompting a Aztec timeout.
The Wolf Pack missed nine of their 10 subsequent attempts, while SDSU proceded to go on a 15-2 run over the next 6:46 — capped by Bradley’s transition 3-pointer — to tie it at 24. The Aztecs entered with the one-point lead — 28-27 — heading into the halftime break, holding Nevada to 2-of-17 shooting over the half’s final 12:46 after its illustrious shooting start.
In the first half, Nevada shot 42.3 percent and 4-of-10 from distance; SDSU shot 32.1 percent and 30.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Back-to-back triples from Blackshear and Cambridge re-gave Nevada the 33-30 lead. Three straight Bradley triples made it 51-48 in the Aztecs’ favor with 9:36 remaining. Pulliam’s jumper increased it to 58-50, but Nevada responded with seven unanswered to cut it to one.
Mensah’s two-handed slam put San Diego State ahead 62-57 with 2:59 left in regulation, but the Pack couldn’t muster up enough points to take control of the game, enduring the heartbreaking defeat.
Next up: Nevada closes its three-game-in-five day slate with a home bout versus Colorado State at 8:00 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network.