Denzel Douglas led a furious comeback for Nevada with a career-high 14 points as the Rams tied the game with less than three minutes to play and then beat TCU 58-56 to win the Paradise Jam. The game ended with a personal blowout in Nevada’s favor as forward Cody Martin had 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists, and guard Jordan Caroline came through with 20 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
It was an incredible turn of events for Nevada, who was out to 7-0 to start the season but lost all of its remaining games and did not earn an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 1997. But on Wednesday, the Rams pulled themselves together to end a two-game losing streak and hand TCU its first loss of the season.
On the other side, Karviar Shepherd scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds for TCU, which turned the ball over 15 times and shot 30 percent. Despite the lack of success against Nevada, TCU was able to claim their first 10-0 start since 2001.
But the Rams found a way to win, a remarkable outcome for a team that, not so long ago, had seemingly lost everything and more. Here are some of the key moments from the game.
No more fiery Mathews
Down 50-39 with 11:52 to play, it looked like this would be another subpar season for the Rams. On that same night, Nevada honored its 10 seniors and made Mathews’s career one to remember. But, as head coach Eric Musselman noted, there’s no such thing as a traditional season for Nevada, which is looking for its sixth straight 20-win season. On Wednesday, Nevada’s seniors paid tribute to head coach Eric Musselman by wearing only nylons during warm-ups. But as the game progressed, and Mathews’s shots looked increasingly off, he was limited. After scoring 19 points in the first half, he scored only six more points.
Breakaway and some defensive stops
It was ugly at times as both teams seemed unsure of how to handle each other. Nevada had some initial trouble defensively holding Shepherd in check, but eventually it figured out what the TCU forward is good at: he can jump and he can move. A few minutes into the second half, Nevada pulled within three at 48-45 when Cameron Oliver converted a 3-point play. On the other end, TCU’s Andrew Stevenson and Alexa Bolomboy each put up two straight shots. Both missed. On TCU’s next possession, guard Anessa Colson had a shot block that came after some defensive pressure and excellent ball movement by Nevada led to Paige Fike finding an open Conner Frankamp on the break. A minute later, Clarkson had another quick basket off a missed shot and then Clark hit a 3-pointer off an assist from Martin to get Nevada within one with under five minutes to play.
Cooper gets one final shot to beat the buzzer
Twice, TCU had a chance to win the game with less than a minute left, but Cooper put up an airball on her second attempt and then watched the rebound bounce out. Cooper’s performance was a stark contrast to his last game when he missed seven free throws and was scoreless in Nevada’s 62-57 loss to Wright State last Friday. But after Cooper hit a short jumper with 45 seconds to play, Chris Olave threw down an emphatic dunk that gave Nevada the one-point lead and Clark clinched it with two free throws with two seconds to play.