Pack guards step up

Starting backcourt scores team's final 14 points to cary Nevada in OT

Ncaa Tournament

March 17, 2007|By Dave Curtis | Dave Curtis,Orlando Sentinel

NEW ORLEANS -- With less than a second left in overtime and Nevada's two-possession lead guaranteeing victory, coach Mark Fox wrapped an arm around senior forward Nick Fazekas and whispered into his ear.

"I told him I was proud of him," Fox said after the Wolf Pack's 77-71 victory over Creighton yesterday. "I told him that it would come back to him. And that he gets to play another day."

Fazekas, the cornerstone of Nevada's ascension to national prominence the past four seasons, watched the final 3:06 of overtime from the bench after fouling out. As he sat, guards Kyle Shiloh, Marcelus Kemp and Ramon Sessions combined to score the No. 7 seed Wolf Pack's final 14 points.

Six of them came on wild drives down the lane that ended in a layup for Shiloh and a 5-foot jumper and circus scoop shot for Sessions that made it 72-66 Nevada with 44 seconds left in overtime.

"The spirit of our team came back," Fox said. "We were able to make some key plays."

The Wolf Pack (29-4), which advanced to face No. 2 seed Memphis tomorrow afternoon, experienced similar success in December against Gonzaga. That night, Fazekas fouled out late, but Nevada held on to win, 82-74.

"It was like an instant replay of that," said Fazekas, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. "I had no doubts at all that Marcelus and Shiloh and Ramon would take over."

Powered by a matchup zone that stifled Nevada for much of regulation, No. 10 seed Creighton grabbed a 59-55 lead on Anthony Tolliver's layup with 4:10 left in regulation. But the Bluejays (22-11) wouldn't score again until overtime and didn't get a foul call on Nate Funk's drive to the basket with five seconds left.

Funk, Tolliver and fellow senior Nick Porter combined for 53 of their team's points -- Funk led the group with 23 in his last college game.

"He's worked his butt over the five years he's been with us," Creighton coach Dana Altman said. "He's going to play basketball for a while here."

But even Funk, one of the best ever to play for the Bluejays, couldn't top Kemp's 27 points and 12 rebounds -- both game highs. The work on the boards helped Nevada gain a 48-31 rebounding edge for the game.

Dave Curtis writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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