Nevada, which had never reached the NIT quarters before Wednesday, won’t be going to its Final Four, which is played at MSG, either. The Wolf Pack was mauled at Stanford, 84-56, ending its season.
“I’m disappointed we’re not going to Madison Square Garden,” Nevada senior forward Dario Hunt said. “But I can’t be too disappointed. We were 13-19 last year and came back this way.”
Nevada finishes its season 28-7, marking the second-most wins in a single season in program history.
Stanford stole all the momentum by halftime. The Cardinal raced out to a 42-27 lead at the break on the strength of some red-hot shooting. Stanford connected on 17-of-26 first-half shots (65.4 percent), including 4-of-5 from 3-point land.
The halftime margin was not surprising given the Cardinal’s shooting accuracy and dominance in nearly every category on the stat sheet. Stanford had 18 first-half rebounds to Nevada’s nine and those led to a 9-2 advantage in second-chance points. The Pac-12 school also got 18 points from its reserves in the first 20 minutes.
“It was a very physical game,” Nevada coach David Carter said. “I thought they came out and set the tempo and we didn’t respond well. They shot the ball well. They were in sync all night. We didn’t respond the way I thought we would after falling down. That’s a credit to them.”
Nevada, which hit on only 9-of-25 from the field in the first half, missed its first five shots from the floor, but was still able to hang around early on. The Wolf Pack got a putback from sophomore reserve post Devonte Elliott that left it down only five, 18-13, with 11:12 showing on the first-half clock.
That’s when Stanford began to take control. The Cardinal scored nine of the next 11 points to kickstart a 22-9 outburst that saw it build a 40-22 lead. Josh Huestis capped the run with a wide-open 3-pointer that left 1:28 remaining before the intermission.
“Whenever we take control, it’s because we defended well,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “If we get stops, we’re able to build on a lead. I thought we were able to do that.”
Nevada did score five of the last seven points before halftime — on a pair of Deonte Burton free throws and a Malik Story trey — accounting for the 15-point gap at halftime.
Stanford went right back to work after halftime. It scored the first four points of the second half in just over a minute, the second of those buckets was a Jarrett Mann dunk that forced Carter to call timeout.
The brief respite did little to faze Stanford. An Anthony Brown trey two minutes later gave the Cardinal a 51-29 lead, pushing its lead over the 20-point mark for the first time.
The lead was still 22, 56-34 after a Dwight Powell runner left 14:20 to go in the contest. Nevada showed its only real signs of life in lopsided loss over the next two minutes. The Wolf Pack ripped off a 9-0 run in that span and cut the Cardinal lead to 13, 56-43, with just over 12 minutes left in the nationally televised affair.
The margin was still 14, 61-47, with just under 10 minutes to go when it got ugly for the guests. Stanford outscored Nevada 20-2 in a stretch of less than five minutes and pushed its lead to 81-49 as the rout was on.
“We didn’t come out expecting to get beat by that margin,” Carter said. “It was a game that got away from us. That happens in athletics sometimes. We got frustrated. I thought we lost our composure at times tonight.”
Story finished with 14 points to lead Nevada, which finished a 19-of-49 shooting (38.8 percent). Burton and Czyz chipped in 13 and 11 points respectively.
Four Cardinal players finished in double figures in the scoring column. Owens and Chasson Randle both had 15 points, while Josh Huestis and Aaron Bright added 12 and 10.
Stanford (24-11) will play UMass in an NIT semifinal Tuesday.
“We’re excited to still be playing,” Dawkins said. “It’s great for our kids to get this tournament experience. The additional practice is good. I see them growing as players each game.”