By Greg Morse (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
A rivalry was reborn Tuesday night as Nevada defeated Lamar. Nevada returned to the Big 8 conference and was hungry for a win after Lamar bested them in their meeting on the gridiron this past fall.
“Anytime it’s a geographical rival it’s a big game. It really energized our players,” said Nevada head coach Shaun Gray, “I think the fans and the players really enjoy this game being back on the schedule.”
Both teams started out hot, keeping pace with one another. Lamar took a 12-8 lead when Nevada went on a 7-0 run to make it 15-12 through the first quarter. Nevada junior Dalton Gayman quickly put the team on his shoulders, scoring their first six points on free-throws, and completing his first eight free-throws in a row. Altogether he would go 10 for 11 from the line.
“Early in the season I was struggling with my free throws, so I’ve just been in the gym every day after practice making 50 or 100 before I leave,” Gayman said.
After Nevada went up 23-16 on Lamar midway through the second quarter, Lamar went on a 6-0 run to tie up the game. Lamar held down Gayman in the second quarter holding him to four points while he also picked up two fouls. Nevada led by just two at 31-29 heading into the half.
On the other side, Lamar was led by sophomore Case Tucker, who led the team in the first half with 10 points and four rebounds.
Coming out of the half, Nevada leaned heavily on senior Matthew Thompson and sophomore Logan Applegate to pick up where Gayman had left off. Thompson scored 9 points, 14 for the game, and Applegate scored 6 points, 12 for the game including two three-pointers.
Lamar senior Landon Hardman helped keep Lamar in the game by scoring 14 points on the night including going 4-for-4 from the line in the second half. As the seconds ticked down in the third quarter however, Nevada was leading 49-43 and looked poised to distance themselves, only for Lamar junior JD Bishop to make a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 46-49, keeping the game close going into the final stretch. Bishop scored 11 points on the night.
Nevada would dominate in the fourth quarter including a 21-0 run on the way to making the final score 67-49.
“In the second half we made adjustments [on defense]. Great defensive teams improve as the game goes along and we saw that tonight. I’m really proud of the guys for that,” Gray said.