#1 Nevada wins 2017 Championship 79-71 - Mar 12, 2017
The Wolf Pack won its ninth consecutive game on Saturday, a 79-71 victory over Colorado State on Saturday in the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship. Jordan Caroline (6'7''-F-96) scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Wolf Pack to its first automatic NCAA Tournament bid since winning the 2006 Western Athletic Conference tournament. "It's a great feeling winning it anywhere, knowing we have an automatic bid to go to the Dance," said Caroline, when asked about winning the tournament inside the Thomas and Mack Center. "I wanted to help my team any way I could to get to the tournament, not just scoring, any way I could." Caroline was named tournament MVP after scoring 55 points and grabbing 28 rebounds in three games. After squandering a 16-point lead, and allowing the Rams to tie the game midway through the second half, Nevada used an 11-3 run to build an eight-point cushion during a five-minute stretch, while Colorado State missed eight consecutive attempts. The Rams pulled within one, 66-65, when Jeremiah Paige (6'3''-G) hit a 3-pointer with 2:32 left in the game, but it would be the closest they would get the rest of the way. Nevada got 25 of its 39 points in the second half from the free throw line. Marcus Marshall (6'3''-G-94) added 21 points and was 12 of 15 from the free throw line down the stretch for top-seeded Nevada (28-6), which went to the line 35 times in the game, compared to 11 for Colorado State. "At halftime, we talked to the team and we all discussed, we knew that they weren't going to go away, that they would compete and make a run, which all of (Colorado State) Coach (Larry) Eustachy's teams always do," Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. "They're tough-minded and can compete. I'm proud of the way we defended and rebounded, especially when we struggled to score at times and they went on their scoring run." Nevada made its statement from the opening tip, scoring the game's first nine points en route to building a 16-point advantage with balanced scoring across the board. The Wolf Pack, which shot 9 of 24 (79.2 percent) from the field in the second half of its semifinal win over Fresno State, carried the momentum into the championship game, hitting 57.6 percent (19 of 33) from the field) in the first half. Caroline found his stroke early against the Rams, hitting his first four attempts. As a team, the Wolf Pack hit nine of its first 14 shots (64.2 percent) from the field, while building a 19-10 lead. The Rams put together a mini-run of their own, and cut the deficit to four at the 8:02 mark. But Nevada's depth was too much, as it outscored Colorado State 25-17 to close the half and head into the locker room with a 44-32 lead. Gian Clavell (6'4''-G-93) had 30 points for No. 2 seed Colorado State (23-11), which was seeking its first Mountain West title since 2003. Prentiss Nixon added 23 points, and Emmanuel Omogbo (6'8''-F-95) chipped in with 10. "This is a special group that I will always remember," Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. "I can't speak for Gian or Emmanuel, but I don't think we want to stop playing. I think we want to keep this group together as long as we can. I would assume we're in the NIT, and we're anxious to see what happens there, and how far we can advance." It marked the eighth time the top two seeds met for the Mountain West tournament title. The No. 2 seed was 7-0 the previous seven meetings.
BIG PICTURE Nevada - After struggling through its worst first half of the season, scoring a mere 21 points on 23.3 percent shooting in a semifinal win over Fresno State, the Wolf Pack shot 42 of 79 (53.1 percent) from the field, including 15 of 47 (40.5 percent) from 3-point range in its last three halves of basketball. Colorado State - Clavell came into the championship game with 989 career points. His 30 points eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau, as he now sits at 1,019.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM Joining Caroline on the all-tournament team were Marshall and Oliver, and from Colorado State, Clavell and Nixon.
THE CODE TO THE DANCE Musselman said a security code for the door to the room team meetings are held has been the same since the first meeting of the season: 3-12-17. "Because that's the day of Selection Sunday," he said. "And it's been that way for 11 months, basically, where every time they walk in that locker room they had to put that code in. ... This was our goal from day one.
Courtesy of TheMW
MWC Tournament Final: Nevada - Colorado State 79-71 MWC Tournament Semifinals: Colorado State - San Diego State 71-63 Nevada - Fresno State 83-72
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