Foster doubles down for Nevada
Special to The R-C
Elijah Foster is making Eric Musselman a happy coach these days.
“His development continues to be amazing,” Musselman said.
Foster scored 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds during the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 91-76 victory over the Iona Gaels Sunday at Lawlor Events Center. It is the second double-double for the Wolf Pack’s 6-foot-7 forward in the season’s first four games. He didn’t have any his first two seasons combined.
“Am I surprised how Elijah is playing?” Musselman said. “I think Elijah is even surprising himself at times. He just keeps getting better and better. It‘s real neat to see.”
Foster had just one game of 10 or more rebounds and just two games of 10 or more points during his first two seasons at Nevada. He had 18 points and 10 boards against Loyola Marymount on Nov. 14 for his first career double-double.
“I guess I have surprised myself,” said Foster, who is averaging 12.7 points and 7.2 rebounds this season after averaging 2.1 points and 2.9 rebounds over his first two seasons. “I’m just taking what I’m given out there. I just go out and do the dirty work.”
OLIVER NAILS THREE THREES: Cam Oliver has always loved shooting 3-pointers.
“I think ever since I was little I liked trying to shoot from as far away as I could and make a shot,” the Wolf Pack’s 6-foot-8 center said. “I’ve always liked that.”
Oliver equaled his career high with three 3-pointers against Iona (in four attempts) and has now made 7-of-13 this season. Last year as a freshman, he was 20-of-61 (.328) from long distance.
“The top of the key is my favorite spot,” Oliver said.
Oliver’s most important 3-pointer against Iona came from the left corner, giving the Pack an 82-71 lead with 2:18 to play. He also gave the Pack a 77-67 lead with 4:02 to go on a three from the right elbow. His 3-pointer from the top of the circle cut Iona’s lead to 18-13 with 12:37 to go in the first half.
“Cam spends a lot of time working on his shot,” Musselman said.
RAMSEY HEALED: Musselman kept point guard Devearl Ramsey out of Friday night’s 83-58 win over Oregon State because the freshman was suffering from a groin injury. Ramsey played just five minutes against Iona because of his shot selection, Musselman said.
“He took two quick pull-ups (jumpers) in the first few minutes,” Musselman said. “It wasn’t the groin tonight.”
Ramsey, who started the Pack’s second game of the season (against Loyola Marymount), did not get off the bench in the second half. He missed both his field goal attempts and his lone free throw during his five first-half minutes.
When asked how Ramsey’s injury was healing, Musselman said, “He said he felt like eight out of 10. Now we need his shot selection to be eight out of 10.”
MARSHALL MAKING HIS POINT: Senior Marcus Marshall saw important minutes at point guard once again on Sunday. The Wolf Pack’s shooting guard ran the Wolf Pack’s offense down the stretch in the final nine minutes even though starting point guard Lindsey Drew was on the floor for the final 6:20.
“When he’s running the pick and roll he puts great pressure on the defense,” Musselman said of Marshall. “He sometimes draws two defenders.”
The 6-foot-3 Marshall finished with 20 points and five assists in 37 minutes. Drew led the team with six assists in 33 minutes.
“When I have the ball (at the point) teams key on me,” Marshall said. “And that opens up shots for other people. I don’t worry about looking for my shot as much when that happens.”
Musselman, though, told Marshall to look for his shot in the second half. Marshall was just 1-of-3 from the floor in the first half and was 3-of-7 in the second half.
“I’m not a guy who always goes out there looking to get his (points),” Marshall said. “I’m normally a guy who lets the game come to him. But I understand my role on this team. I need to make my shots.”
WASHINGTON SHREDS PACK DEFENSE: Iona’s Jordan Washington scored a game-high 29 points and also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. The 6-foot-8, 255-pound senior dominated the Pack in the paint, making 11-of-14 shots mainly from right under the basket.
“He led the nation in points per minute last year so we knew he was a good player,” Musselman said. “He’s a real talented guy. We’ll continue to work on our post defense and talk about angles but he’s a guy who will do that against a lot of teams.”
The Pack’s post players never found a way to slow down Washington. He scored 21 points in the second half on 8-of-11 shooting in 17 minutes.
“The man’s a bull,” Foster said. “They feed it to him and he’s very efficient.”
“I’m not real proud of my post defense,” Oliver said. “I have to take pride in that. I can’t let a man get 29 and 13 like that.”