LAS CRUCES, N.M. — JaVale McGee refused to let his youth show.
The sophomore forward had 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots as UNR beat Fresno State 64-57 on Thursday in the Western Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
“JaVale keeps getting better,” Wolf Pack coach Mark Fox said. “What he needs is more experience. He is still maturing physically, but he is a competitor.”
Senior Marcelus Kemp responded with 12 points after a scoreless first half, McGee hit 9 of 15 from the field and DeMarshay Johnson scored 11 points as second-seeded UNR (21-10) advanced to the semifinals. The Wolf Pack will play New Mexico State today.
“We just grinded it out,” Kemp said.
Alex Blair had 14 points and Kevin Bell and Eddie Miller each scored 11 for Fresno State (13-18), which trimmed a 31-19 halftime deficit to three points midway through the second half but couldn’t get closer.
Bell’s 3-pointer with 11:11 remaining cut the margin to 43-40, but McGee responded with a three-point play. The 7-foot-1-inch McGee drove for a dunk and added the free throw for a 46-40 lead.
“We closed it, but we just couldn’t finish it,” Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland said.
UNR has won six in a row over the Bulldogs, including a 76-63 win Saturday to close the regular season. McGee had 23 points and 14 rebounds in that one, helping the Wolf Pack to a fifth straight 20-win season.
Kemp, UNR’s scoring leader with a 20.1 average, found an offensive rhythm after going 0-for-4 in the first half. He kick-started the offense with a 3-pointer less than two minutes after halftime.
McGee made up for Kemp’s struggles with a big first half, leading the Wolf Pack to a 31-19 lead at the break. He was 5-for-7 from the field for 11 points with six rebounds.
“I am just trying to do the best for the team,” McGee said. “We won, so that is what matters.”