David Carter wasn’t surprised by Jerry Evans’ performance Monday night at Lawlor Events Center.
“That comes from practice,” said Carter after Evans’ 28 points keyed a 98-57 exhibition victory over the Montana Tech Orediggers in front of a crowd of 3,023. “What he did tonight, he’s been doing in practice.”
Evans drained five 3-pointers and was 9-of-15 from the floor. The 6-foot-8 senior also had a team-high 11 rebounds in a very efficient 25 minutes.
“I was open,” Evans said. “Today things just happened to go my way.”
Evans hit two 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the game as the Pack jumped out to an 8-0 lead. His third 3-pointer and 13th point of the first half gave the Pack a 28-9 lead.
“I was just being aggressive,” said Evans, part of a three-guard starting lineup with fellow guards Deonte Burton and Michael Perez and forwards Ali Fall and Cole Huff. “I just wanted to take good shots.”
Evans also had a dunk off a no-look pass from freshman D.J. Fenner for a 36-13 lead with 6:28 to go in the opening half. He finished the first half with 18 points, seven rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal in just 15 minutes.
“We just shot the ball real well as a team,” Evans said, referring to the Pack’s .525 shooting percentage for the game. “It’s not going to go this way every night.”
In addition to leading the Pack in scoring and rebounding, Evans also had a team-high three steals and two blocks to go along with three assists. Perez, who assisted on Evans’ first 3-pointer, led the Pack with seven assists.
“Jerry is more focused this year,” Carter said. “It’s his senior year. Seniors always have that little extra determination. They don’t want to go out on a bad note. This is their last year.”
The Wolf Pack, which lost its last eight games last year on the way to a 12-19 season, dominated the overmatched NAIA Orediggers. The Wolf Pack seemed to score at will, exploding out to a 52-24 halftime lead as eight different players scored. The Wolf Pack could have easily hit the century mark in scoring but Carter had Fenner hold the ball for the final 35 seconds.
“Sportsmanship,” Carter said. “We were up big and I didn’t want to show anybody up.”
The Pack put the game away with a 24-0 run midway through the first half, taking a 34-9 lead with 7:31to play. Evans had eight points in the run but Burton also had a pair of 3-pointers. Fenner and Perez also chipped in with 3-pointers in the run and Lucas Stivrins and Fall also had lay-ups.
“It was a good warm-up game,” said Burton, who finished with 12 points and three assists in 28 minutes.
Perez, who played with UTEP for two seasons before sitting out last season at Nevada as a red-shirt, had a promising Wolf Pack debut despite committing six turnovers. The 6-3 junior had 10 points, seven assists and three steals in 33 minutes. He had six assists in the first half with three of them coming in the first four minutes.
“He played very well,” Carter said. “He showed a lot of poise. He passed up some shots that he probably should have taken but that’s just a sign that he is unselfish.”
The Wolf Pack played very unselfishly overall with 23 assists on 32 field goals. “We were not selfish at all,” Burton said. “We shared the ball. They (Montana Tech) sat in a zone most of the night so we moved the ball around real well.”
“I felt like we shared the ball a lot more in this game than we did last year,” Evans said. “We just got some very good looks at the basket and it’s because we were moving the ball around real well. Last year we didn’t have good ball movement.”
The Wolf Pack played the game without forwards A.J. West and Chris Brown and guards Marqueze Coleman and Stelios Papafloratos. Coleman sprained an ankle in practice on Saturday and should be ready for the season opener on Friday (7:05 p.m.) against Pacific at Lawlor Events Center. Brown and Papafloratos were out with illnesses. West’s eligibility is currently under investigation by the NCAA and is out indefinitely.
The Pack, though, was more concerned Monday night with getting the season off to a productive start.
“It just felt nice to get out there and play,” Burton said. “We were a little tired of beating each other up in practice.”
“This was one of our better exhibition games,” said Carter, now in his fifth year as head coach. “We moved the ball well and the team had a lot of energy. We want to build on that.”