RENO, Nev. - Nevada guard Deonte Burton, an NBA prospect, banked in a 3-pointer from about 25 feet away at the top of the key as time expired, giving his team an 83-81 win over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in front of 5,883 spectators Friday night in the Lawlor Events Center.
Burton led all players with 28 points, while Michael Perez scored 12 points and Jerry Evans Jr. contributed 11 for the Wolfpack (4-2), who have won three games by two points this season.
UTC (2-3) led for most of the game and went back ahead, 81-80, on a 3-pointer by Zaccheus Mason with 22 seconds to play. Mason, who led UTC with 24 points, could have increased that advantage, but he missed two free throws with 7.8 seconds to play.
"If we continue to play like this, and play hard, and play together and stick to our principles, we'll be able to do good things in conference play," Mason said on the postgame radio show. "We have to take the positives from it and get better from it."
Freshman point guard Greg Pryor scored 19 points and sophomore Gee McGhee added 12 for the Mocs, who will play Sunday night against UCLA in famed Pauley Pavilion.
"We're doing things the right way," UTC coach Will Wade said on the radio. "We played the best team we've played all year, and we played our best game. We didn't make a play at the end. A pro banked in a 25-footer.
"Our execution down the stretch was much better. We have to stick with our plan. It's going to work."
The Mocs never trailed in the first half after Mason opened the game with a 3-pointer, but they were never able to pull away. Their largest lead came when Martynas Bareika scored two points for a 17-9 advantage. The margin hovered around four points for the rest of theas UTC dealt with foul trouble until the halftime horn.
Nevada tied the game at 24. UTC inched ahead by six. A 3-pointer by Perez in the final minute sent the teams into halftime with UTC leading 41-39. UTC shot 14-of-24 from the floor and out-rebounded Nevada 17-15 before the break.
Nevada tied the game for the first time in the second half, at 53-all, when Burton converted a drive with 11:38 to go. He gave the Wolfpack a three-point lead three possessions later on a pull-up 3-pointer with about nine minutes to play. Nevada stretched its lead to five points.
The Mocs rallied and took the lead four times in the final four minutes while exchanging baskets with the Wolfpack. Mason hit what could have been the game-winner with 22 seconds left from a shade off the top of the key. A flurry of empty possessions set up the final shot.
Burton banked it.
"We have to stick with what we're doing, stick with our plan," Wade said on the radio. "These games are going to come back to us if we keep doing the right things."