RENO – Kendall Stephens came to Nevada with the reputation of a very good long-range shooter, and he didn’t disappoint.
Stephens, the transfer from Purdue, scored 19 points thanks to five 3-point field goals to spark the Pack to an 81-72 win over Grand Canyon Sunday afternoon at Lawlor Events Center.
The exhibition game was added to the Pack’s schedule late, and all proceeds went to help victims of the recent wild fires in Northern California.
Stephens was one of four players in double figures. Returning starter Jordan Caroline led all scorers with 22 points and eight rebounds. Lindsey Drew, Nevada’s only other returning starter, added 13. North Carolina State transfer Caleb Martin added 10 points.
The Pack, despite being outrebounded 22-18 and giving up 10 second-chance points, led 41-40 at the half on the strength of 17 first-half points by Caroline and 11 from Stephens, who went 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and 3-for-4 from the floor overall.
There were eight ties in the opening half and seven lead changes.
Stephens knocked down two free throws with 27.8 left in the half to give the Pack a 41-40 halftime lead, giving Nevada some momentum heading into the half.
Nevada came out blazing in the second half, outscoring Grand Canyon 14-0 in the first 2-minutes 54-seconds.
Drew started the barrage, and then St. John’s transfer Darien Williams scored after a Grand Canyon turnover. Grand Canyon missed the next two times down the floor, and Stephens scored each time on 3-pointer, the second giving Nevada a 51-40 lead.
Caroline drained two free throws and Stephens completed the barrage with a basket to make it 55-40 with 17:06 left in the game.
Nevada maintained a comfortable lead until Grand Canyon went on an 8-0 run to shave the lead to single digits at 72-64. Shaq Carr had a basket and two free throws to lead the Antelopes’ rally.
Josh Hall scored, and after a Grand Canyon miss, Drew scored on a three-point play to make it 77-64 with 3:20 left. Grand Canyon closed to nine, 79-70, with 10.5 left.
Oscar Frayer was the only GCU player in double figures with 15.
BY THE NUMBERS
The teams tied in rebounding with 40 apiece… Nevada shot 45.6 from the field compared to 37.8 by GCU … Nevada, after hitting 14-for-14 from the line in the first half, finished 20-for-22 …Nevada had 17 assists on 26 baskets with NC State transfer Cody Martin leading the way with eight assists… Nevada did turn the ball overv 17 times, which led to 21 GCU points.
CALEB MARTIN IN ACTION
On Wednesday at the MW Media Summit, North Carolina State transfer Caleb Martin was walking around with a boot on his right foot, and coach Eric Musselman said he wouldn’t play against Grand Canyon.
Martin didn’t start, but he logged eight minutes of action in the first half.
BAT ON THE LOOSE
A bat was seen flying around the Lawlor Event Center, causing a slight delay in the action around the 7-minute mark.
The bat left the playing floor area only to return a few minutes later. Grand Canyon’s Oscar Frayer was a little spooked and jumped back a bit when the bat headed his way, and several other players ducked or moved body parts to avoid the bat.
Nevada landed a pair of recruits in Vincent Lee from Midlothian Heritage in Texas, and 6-10 K.J. Hymes from the Phoenix area.
Lee visited the campus Friday and left pledging his allegiance to the Pack. He averaged 11.6 a game. With Elijah Foster graduating at the end of the year, Hymes will be the tallest player on the roster next year.