Martins, Wolf Pack on the rise
Published 9:58 am Thursday, February 22, 2018
Nevada’s basketball team won another statement game against Boise State, stopping the Broncos’ home winning streak at 13 in the process. Caleb and Cody Martin combined for 53 points in a road win over Utah State.
Impressive stuff – again – by the Martin twins and the 24th-ranked Wolf Pack.
Nevada faced serious adversity – and heartbreak – in the showdown at Boise. Junior point guard Lindsey Drew heaved a Hail Mary at the halftime horn. Drew collapsed to the floor, rupturing his right Achilles. His season is over, leaving the Wolf Pack with seven scholarship players. As Hallice Cooke and Caleb helped him off the floor, a Boise fan yelled: “I hope it’s broke.”
Enraged by the comment, the Wolf Pack were bent on winning one for their fallen teammate – and they did just that, 77-72 on Feb. 14. It was a massive win, moving first-place Nevada to 11-2 in the Mountain West Conference. Boise, the only team that realistically could catch Nevada, dropped to 10-4 with five games remaining in the regular season.
“That lit a fire under us and we wanted it that much more,” Cody said. “We wanted to go out there and punch them right in the mouth.”
Up by two, Cody grabbed a defensive rebound and hit two free throws with 10 seconds left to ice the win. Caleb rubbed it in the home fans’ noses at the end, waiting until the buzzer sounded and performing a 360-degree dunk.
Boise star Chandler Hutchison had already provided bulletin-board material coming into the game. Following Nevada’s 74-68 home win over the Broncos earlier in the season, he said he still felt like Boise was the better team. Those words came back to haunt him as Nevada extended its series winning streak to four.
“It was settled the first time,” Caleb said. “With the team we’ve got, it doesn’t matter what our depth is looking like. It’s all about our mentality. Our heart is crazy.
“You have people talking to us saying: ‘Learn how to win with class.’ No, your fans need to have class. It would have been a different story if fans weren’t yelling that (at Drew). We’re just out there playing. Obviously, you have a couple of fans here and there, but the majority of the people were yelling at him hoping he was down for good. At the end of the day, it’s a sport. At the end of the day, we’re people. That was a big one, a big motivator for us, and it left a bad taste in our mouth.”
Caleb, playing through a foot injury at 75-80 percent healthy, tied for game-high honors with 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Cody contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“It was a huge game for us,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said.
Cody stole the show in a 93-87 win at Utah State on Feb. 17. Playing point guard instead of the post in Drew’s absence, he was sensational with 30 career-high points, nine rebounds and four assists. He made 13 of 18 field goals, including two 3-pointers.
“It’s hard to try to pick up his role because he’s a really, really big part of our team,” Cody said. “Our biggest facilitator. One of our leaders. The biggest thing for me is to try to be a little bit more aggressive and make sure I take care of the ball.”
Caleb was superb as well with 23 points and six rebounds. He made 6 of 12 field goals and 8 of 8 free throws as Nevada improved to 23-5 overall and 11-2 in the conference.
Cody kept his jaw-dropping performance in perspective.
“I’m not going to come off this game thinking I’m going to shoot 40 shots,” he said. “I’m just going to keep approaching the game like I normally do: Facilitate, play hard and be a leader. Stay engaged and play defense.”