Wolf Pack falls to Long Beach
Special to the Tribune
Deonte Burton feels he cost his Nevada Wolf Pack teammates a victory Saturday night.
“This one is on me,” said Burton after the Pack’s 80-77 overtime loss to the Long Beach State 49ers in front of 7,141 fans. “I had a bad shooting night. I’ll take this one for my team.”
Burton scored 19 points with seven rebounds and five assists but he turned the ball over six times, missed all eight of his 3-point attempts and made just 4-of-17 shots overall. It was the worst 3-point shooting night of his Wolf Pack career and the six turnovers equaled the amount he had over the last six games combined.
“This hurts real bad,” the senior point guard said. “We kind of gave the game away.”
Burton did convert 11-of-12 free throws but his one miss opened the door for Long Beach to send the game into overtime. With the Pack ahead 67-65 with eight seconds to go in regulation, Burton missed his first free throw and made the second. The 49ers’ Mike Caffey then drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 68-68.
A stunned Wolf Pack team headed into the extra five-minute overtime period.
“The guys weren’t down mentally,” Pack coach David Carter said. “But I think a few of them were a little fatigued.”
Burton scored in the lane for a 70-68 Wolf Pack lead just 30 seconds into the overtime. But A.J. Spencer hit a 3-pointer to give the 49ers a 71-70 lead just 20 seconds later. The 49ers, now 4-9, would protect that lead over the final 4:10 of overtime.
The Pack, which fell to 5-8, did pull within a point twice in the overtime. Jerry Evans rebounded a missed lay-up by Burton and dunked the ball to cut Long Beach’s lead to 73-72 with 2:26 to go. Burton also hit a pair of free throws to pull the Pack within 75-74 with 1:05 left.
Burton then picked up two fouls — one on offense and one on defense — in a span of just 12 seconds in the final minute. “There were some questionable charging calls,” Burton said.
Caffey hit a pair of free throws after the defensive foul on Burton to give Long Beach a 77-74 lead with 30 seconds left. Burton then tossed up two wild 3-point attempts after a Wolf Pack timeout, missing both.
“I thought he rushed the second one a little bit,” Carter said. “I thought we showed a little desperation.”
Spencer converted a pair of free throws to give the 49ers a 79-74 lead with 15 seconds left. Mike Perez hit a 3-pointer for the Pack with 10 seconds left, slicing the deficit to 79-77. Long Beach’s Tyler Lamb then made just 1-of-2 free throws, giving the Pack one last chance to tie the game.
Burton, though, lost control of his dribble with two seconds to go and Cole Huff had to throw up a desperation 3-pointer that bounced off the rim as time expired.
“We just didn’t execute down the stretch and make the big plays when we needed it,” said Evans, who had a team-high 21 points. “We gave them too many second chances.”
The Wolf Pack actually had more second chance points (16-15) than the 49ers. The statistic that hurt the Pack most was turnovers. The Pack turned the ball over a season-high 18 times as Long Beach enjoyed a 20-13 edge in points off turnovers. The 49ers also outscored the Pack 32-20 in the paint as the Pack had to go to a small lineup much of the final 10 minutes of the game with Ali Fall out with an ankle injury and A.J. West battling foul trouble.
“We turned the ball over too much,” said Burton, who equaled his career high with six turnovers. “That’s not acceptable. We turned the ball over too much against a team that didn’t even pressure us.”
Carter also pointed out the 18 turnovers, 11 of which came after halftime.
“We had 18 turnovers, 16 by the starters,” Carter said. “You just can’t do that. That was the difference in the game.”
It was the most turnovers by the Pack since they had 19 in a 69-56 win over Cal Poly on Dec. 11, 2012.
“We just didn’t take care of the ball,” Carter said. “We competed well and we put ourselves in position to win the game. But we just made too many mistakes down the stretch.”
The Wolf Pack seemingly was in control of the game after freshman D.J. Fenner hit a runner in the lane for a 63-58 lead with 4:28 left in the second half. Burton then converted two free throws for a 65-59 lead with just 1:46 to go.
“I thought at that point if we just took care of the ball and made our free throws, we’d be in good shape,” Carter said.
Fenner, who had to play a career-high 25 minutes because of West’s foul trouble and Fall’s injury, fouled Branford Jones as Jones completed a 3-point play to cut the Pack’s lead to 65-62 with 1:38 to go. Jones, who finished with nine points, also hit a 3-pointer to cut the Pack’s lead to 67-65 with 38 seconds to go in regulation.
“We had this one in hand,” said Burton, who was also called for a technical foul with 13 minutes to go in regulation.
Carter said the technical might have affected Burton the rest of the game.
“He got his composure back but it wasn’t good enough,” Carter said. “I think the technical took him out of his game a little.”
Caffey led the 49ers with 26 points. Lamb had 17 points but missed 20-of-25 shots from the field.
“He had 25 shots,” Carter asked. “I thought he only took 10 and made all 10.”
The Wolf Pack will return to the court on Wednesday at San Jose State for a New Year’s Day meeting with the Spartans. The game will open the Wolf Pack’s Mountain West schedule.
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