Game Recap: Nevada 73, Wyoming 68
Hendricks’ career night nearly leads Cowboys to Senior Day upset
Nevada staved off a Cowboy comeback, but Jake Hendricks gave the home crowd in Laramie a Senior Day to remember.
Facing the last-place team in the league, it was understandable that Nevada may have taken their foot off the gas a bit for their trip to play Wyoming. But their dreams of grabbing the #2 seed in the Mountain West Tournament almost came to a grinding halt on Tuesday night. After nearly giving up all of a double-digit lead over the Cowboys, the Wolf Pack escaped with a 73-68 win in Laramie.
Hunter Maldonado’s potentially game-tying three-pointer in the dying seconds drew iron, and Wyoming fell just short of pulling off a Senior Day upset of Nevada.
Jalen Harris led the Pack with 23 points, adding seven rebounds and a pair of steals. A sure-fire pick for the upcoming All-MWC first team, Harris shot 50% on the night and hit three three-pointers. Fellow guard Jazz Johnson was also in double figures, finishing with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Wyoming senior Jake Hendricks made the most of his final game at Arena-Auditorium, exploding for a career-high 27 points. Hendricks shot 7-for-11 from distance, another record for the guard. Hunter Maldonado was held below his season average, but still managed 14 points and four assists. TJ Taylor added 11 and seven rebounds for the Cowboys.
Hendricks’ record-setting day almost singlehandedly kept Wyoming alive in this game.
After the Wolf Pack pulled out to a 21-10 lead during the first half, the Cowboys stormed back with a 9-0 run, all scored by Hendricks. Later in the game, during a stretch in which Nevada had extended the lead back out to double digits, he scored 12 of 14 points for Wyoming. With five minutes remaining, a Hendricks three made the score 63-60, and Kwane Marble soon cut the deficit to just one point.
The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes, with Nevada bending but never fully breaking. Unfortunately for the headbanded senior, the hot streak ran cold as Hendricks failed to score in the final five minutes.
But thanks to his earlier efforts, Wyoming still had a chance to tie the game in the last seconds of the game. As luck would have it, Maldonado’s three-pointer fell flat and the Cowboys solidified their place in the basement of the Mountain West.
For Nevada, a win is a win—no matter how close, or how ugly.
At worst, the Wolf Pack will remain in position to secure the #3 seed in the Mountain West Tournament after tonight’s victory. Though they came into Tuesday with the same league record, Utah State holds a tiebreaker advantage over Nevada thanks to the Aggies’ 80-70 win back in January—and thanks to the Mountain West’s uneven scheduling, the teams won’t play again in the regular season.
The Aggies host San Jose State on Tuesday night, in a matchup Utah State is heavily favored to win. However, as Wyoming showed tonight, you never know who might explode for a career night.
Nevada closes out the regular season at home for a massive Senior Night soiree with San Diego State (26-1, 15-1 MW). This is the easily the biggest game of the year for the Wolf Pack, so expect Lawlor to be buzzing for this one. With second place potentially on the line—and with the Aztecs finally revealing their mortality—the stakes are astronomical. Jalen Harris vs. Malachi Flynn could be a battle for the ages in Reno.
Wyoming finishes things up with a trip to Fresno State (10-18, 6-11 MW) to face the Bulldogs. Justin Hutson’s team has languished through a lost season, but they do still have a chance to finish ahead of New Mexico in seventh place with a win over the Cowboys. Expect Nate Grimes to have a big day against one of the worst rebounding teams in the country. The Bulldogs should win in a walkover—then again, conventional wisdom said the same thing tonight.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.