March 11, 2006
RENO, Nev. - Nate Harris scored 22 points, including a stretch of nine straight points late in the second half, as Utah State forced overtime before losing 70-63 to 21st-ranked Nevada on the Wolf Pack's home court in the Western Athletic Conference basketball championship game late Saturday.
Harris scored nine straight points for the Aggies as Utah State tied the game at 53 on his final basket and three-point play with 1:25 remaining. After Nevada made a pair of free throws, David Pak hit a field goal with :51 to tie the game at 55. USU had three shots at the end of regulation to win the game as Jaycee Carroll missed an attempt before Harris missed a layup and and Cass Matheus was off on a tip-in try in the final seconds and the game went to an extra period.
Nevada grabbed a 59-57 lead before Durrall Peterson, who had missed five straight shots, drained a three-pointer to give the Aggies a 60-59 advantage. However, Nevada responded by scoring seven straight points and gaining a 66-60 lead.
USU, which through the first half of Saturday's game had hit 43 of 50 free throw attempts for 86 percent in the tournament, made just two of eight charity tosses in the second half.
Harris, who earned first-team all-tournament honors, also grabbed a team-best nine rebounds in the game. He was helped offensively by Matheus, who scored 13 points. Peterson added nine points, while Carroll, who entered the game with a 16.5 point average, scored just four points on two of 10 shooting.
Nevada was led by tournament MVP Nick Fazekas, who scored 23 points and added 14 rebounds. Mo Charlo scored 14 and Marcelus Kemp added 13 for the winners, who clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the victory.
In the second half no team led by more than two points through the first 16 minutes before Nevada scorled two straight baskets to take a 53-48 lead with 4:06 left. The first half saw Nevada's biggest lead at 11-5, while USU's largest margin was three points on several occasions.
Utah State, now 23-8 on the season, will wait to hear its postseason fate from the NCAA Tournament committee, which will announce the tournament field on Sunday at 4 p.m. mountain.
The Aggies have two losses against Nevada, which was ranked in the top 25 at game time in each of those contests, while beating the Wolf Pack at Reno during the regular season as well as defeating NCAA Tournament team Oral Roberts twice during the year. USU also defeated Northwestern State, which competes in its league championship game on Sunday.
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