Thursday , Mar , 09 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Vandals challenge Wolf Pack in WAC Tourney quarterfinals

(Sports Network) – Having lost every single game played outside of Moscow
this season, the Idaho Vandals take one last shot at life on the road
tonight as they compete against 21st-ranked Nevada in the quarterfinals
of the 23rd annual Western Athletic Conference Tournament from the Lawlor
Events Center in Reno. Idaho was 0-14 on the road this season and just 4-24
overall, winning a mere one of 15 conference games along the way. With
their 85-80 overtime setback to Boise State last Saturday, the eighth-
seeded Vandals ran their current skid to eight games. Ironically, their
only league win came against Fresno State (72-61), a team that beat them by
35 points a week earlier and will not be in this tournament due to NCAA

As for the top-seeded Wolf Pack, they were expected to be in this very spot
as soon as last season ended. Nevada is riding its longest win streak in
years at 11 games and would like nothing more than to reprise its 66-60 win
over UTEP in the title game two seasons ago. With respect to the all-time
series between these two schools, Nevada picked up a hard-earned 74-68
decision in the most recent contest back on February 20th, lifting the Pack
to a 25-22 advantage over the Vandals. The winner of this matchup will take
on the winner of the New Mexico State/Hawaii battle in the semifinals on

Making the move over to the WAC was too much for the Vandals to handle this
season, especially on the hardwood where the team was last in the league in
scoring offense (60.6 ppg) and was second-to-last in scoring defense (72.2
ppg). The squad was also second-to-last in shooting from the floor (.409) and
had the hardest time stopping the opposition from converting 48.1 percent from
the field all at the same time. A big part of that was a perimeter defense
that was nearly nonexistent as it watched helplessly as 40.7 percent of the
enemy’s three-point tries dropped through for scores.

A starter in every game who played nearly 36 minutes per outing, Tanoris
Shepard led the team in scoring with his 15.4 ppg and was also first in
assists (100) and steals (40), demonstrating a willingness to work hard at
both ends of the floor even when the team was floundering against Division I
opponents. Keoni Watson added 10.4 ppg and accounted for 70 dishes which
means between the two of them they handed out all but 101 of the unit’s

Nevada ended up second in the conference in both scoring offense (72.9 ppg)
and scoring defense (63.4 ppg), which meant the squad was first overall in
scoring margin at +9.5 ppg. Nevada was known more this season for its
defensive stance that refused to give up easy baskets, as the team limited
opponents to just 39.6 percent success from the field, the lowest percentage
in the WAC, and beyond the three-point line it was more of the same story with
foes converting just 30.2 percent of their attempts. Most of the time those
shots were going up in frantic desperation near the end of games, which
explains the poor results.

Named the WAC Player of the Year for the second straight season, Nick
Fazekas led the Wolf Pack and the conference in scoring with 21.9 ppg and
was second to only LaTech’s Paul Millsap (13.5 rpg) on the glass with 10.3
rpg. Also supplying much-needed scoring support were Marcelus Kemp and Mo
Charlo with 14.1 and 10.2 ppg, respectively.