Friday, April 01, 2016
Nevada Wolf Pack: 2016 College Basketball Invitational Champions
RENO, Nev. -- Nevada's Tyron Criswell has won several individual awards since he started playing basketball in his youth.
But it took until his last college basketball game to win his first team championship after Nevada's 85-82 win against Morehead State in the ninth College Basketball Invitational on Friday night.
"It feels good to win an individual award, but when you win a big one with your team it feels so much better, especially when you know you're team's been through so much," said Criswell, who scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Nevada freshman Cameron Oliver added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Lyonell Gains led Morehead State with 17 points, shooting 8 of 13 from the field.
Winning the clinching game of the best-of-three series wasn't easy for Nevada.
Morehead State's Xavier Moon nearly tied the game with a last-second half-court shot in overtime that bounced off the rim.
"With the half-court shot, from my vantage point, I said, `Here we go: double overtime," Nevada coach Eric Musselman said.
Criswell helped erase Morehead State's lead and put Nevada (24-14) in position to win with 13 seconds left in overtime.
After Nevada guard D.J. Fenner's pass to guard Lindsey Drew was deflected under the basket, Criswell grabbed the loose ball and made a layup to put the Wolf Pack up 83-82.
On the Eagles' next possession, DeJuan Marrero missed a layup and Fenner grabbed the rebound. He converted both free throws before Moon's last-second shot missed and the game ended.
"Mission accomplished: send our seniors out the right way," Musselman said. "For our freshman (they) can sit back and think about all the experience they got ... to springboard us into next year ... all those guys got better obviously with all these extra games and extra time together. Even myself, I know I'll be a better coach coming back next year getting these extra games."
Nevada's ability to get to the free-throw line was vital. The Wolf Pack shot 37.5 percent from the field, but converted 39 of 45 shots from the line. Morehead State (23-14) shot 46.7 percent from the field, but only converted on 6 of 13 free throws.
Nevada's crowd of 9,043, far surpassing the season average (6,416), proved important for the Wolf Pack as it did throughout the CBI tournament. Home teams were 13-3 in the tournament.
Nevada led by as many as 12 points with 15:06 left in regulation, but Morehead State rallied.
"That's what we did all year," Morehead State coach Sean Woods said. "We don't stop playing. We are going to play until the final buzzer and that's what we did tonight."
With six seconds left in regulation and the Eagles down two points, Marrero went to the free-throw line and banked his first shot off the glass. He made the second free throw.
Oliver missed a 3-pointer to win the game in regulation.