The best win in the history of every Nevada Wolf Pack athletic program

Cody Martin
Cody Martin scores a bucket during Nevada's comeback against Cincinnati in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Over the last couple of weeks, we've looked at the best wins in Nevada football history as well as the Wolf Pack's worst losses. I figured we could zoom out a little and look at the best wins in the history of each Wolf Pack program. Below are the best wins for each of Nevada's current programs plus a couple that were recently shuttered.

Men's basketball

2018 vs. No. 6 Cincinnati: Cincinnati isn't the highest-ranked team Nevada basketball has beaten. That'd be No. 3 Gonzaga, which also was a second-round NCAA Tournament game. But I give the small edge in best win to the victory over Cincinnati because of the nature of the comeback. The Wolf Pack rallied out of a 22-point second-half hole to stage the second-largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history. Nevada trailed 65-43 with 11:34 remaining before a 16-0 run. Caleb Martin's 3-pointer with 57 second left tied the game before Josh Hall's game-winning floater with 9.1 seconds remaining, which along with Anthony Martinez's overtime kick to beat Boise State in 2010 is the most memorable play in Wolf Pack history. The victory gave Nevada its second appearance in the Sweet 16 and earmarked the Wolf Pack as the cardiac kids two days after an epic comeback win over Texas in the first round.


2010 vs. No. 3 Boise State: There isn't any debate about this one. The best win in Nevada football history was "Blue Friday," the Wolf Pack's 34-31 overtime win over No. 3-ranked Boise State. Those Broncos are the highest-ranked team to play at Mackay Stadium and were loaded with NFL talent. Boise State had 15 future NFL players; Nevada had 13. Per usual, Boise State got off to a great start, scoring the game's first 17 points, and led 24-7 at halftime. The Wolf Pack rallied to tie the game at 24-24 and 31-31 before Kyle Brotzman missed a game-winning 26-yard field goal before missing a 29-yard field goal to open overtime. That paved the way for Anthony Martinez's 34-yard field goal to win the game. The real question is what Nevada football's second-best win is. I'd go with the program's 38-point comeback to beat Weber State in 1991, although the 0-0 tie against Cal's 1923 "Wonder Team" lives in lore.

Women's basketball

2008 vs. No. 7 Louisville: Nevada women's basketball doesn't get many opportunities to play top-10 teams. Even rarer are wins over such teams. But in November 2008, Nevada drew No. 7 Louisville at the Nugget Classic and scored the program's only top-10 victory. Louisville built a double-digit first-half lead before it was a back-and-forth game in the second half as the lead changed hands nine times with six ties. Dellena Criner led the 85-82 victory by scoring 25 points, including two free throws with 11.8 seconds to clinch the victory. Criner added team highs in assists (seven) and rebounds (six) in one of the best individual performance in program history. The Cardinals were led by future WNBA No. 1 pick Angel McCoughtry, who dominated with 34 points and eight rebounds. This was Louisville’s only loss in its first 20 games, and the Cardinal advanced to the NCAA title game, where it lost to UConn, 76-54.


2003 vs. No. 1 Rice: Nevada baseball has beaten the No. 1 team in the nation six times, including three times over Cal State Fullerton, twice over Stanford and once over Rice. We'll pick the win over Rice for the Wolf Pack's top baseball win. Nevada actually beat Rice twice that season (once when the Owls were No. 1 in the nation and once when they were No. 2), and Wolf Pack closer Zak Basch (father of Instagram famous cat Boris Basch) picked up both wins. We are singling out Nevada's 6-5 win over Rice in Houston in March 2003 as the best win in program history since it was on the road. Rice's starting pitcher and assistant coach (who is now the head coach at Texas) were both ejected in the game. The Wolf Pack trailed 5-3 before scoring three runs in the seventh innings to poke ahead before securing the 6-5 victory, with Mike Hass getting the game-winning RBI. The game was loaded with talent as Nevada played five future MLB players in the contest to Rice's four. The Owls won the national championship that season; Nevada felt it snubbed from the NCAA Tournament after going 32-24.


2008 vs. No. 1 Arizona: The only Wolf Pack program outside of the baseball team to beat the nation's No. 1 team is softball, which knocked off top-ranked Arizona, the defending national champions, in an early-season tournament in Tempe, Ariz., in 2008. It was the fourth game of the season for Nevada, which opened the year by beating No. 25-ranked Oregon State before squeezed out a 1-0 win over the Wildcats, which dropped to 0-3 after the loss (Arizona rebounded to go 41-19 and reach the College World Series as the No. 7 national seed). In the Wolf Pack's win, Jordan McPherson pitched five scoreless inning, escaping two bases-loaded jams, before Katie Holverson earned the save with two scoreless innings, including a strikeout to end the game with the bases juiced. Nevada's lone run came on a second-inning two-out RBI single by Michelle Beach. The Wolf Pack beat eight Top 25 teams that season.


2006 vs. Fresno State: Of every Wolf Pack program, soccer has the most barren history of winning. But Nevada did make the NCAA Tournament once, and that was on the heels of this 2006 win over Fresno State in the WAC Tournament championship game. Nevada hit the crossbar three times during the 110 minutes of scoreless play as the match went to penalty kicks. Nevada's first two shooters -- Miranda Montejo and Samantha Miller -- netted goals before keeper Caitlin Holmes recorded a stop for Nevada. The Wolf Pack's Terran Hadlock made her kick before Fresno State closed the gap to 3-2. After both sides missed, future World Cup player Aivi Luik drove home the game-winning penalty kick for Nevada, which took a 4-2 victory and the WAC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Holmes didn't allowed a goal in Nevada's three WAC Tournament games and was named tournament MVP.


2001 vs. No. 9 Pacific: Nevada has reached the NCAA Tournament five times, although it 0-5 in those games, so we'll go with a regular-season victory. In 2001, the Wolf Pack started the year 12-1, and that included a win over Pacific, which went 28-8 overall, 15-3 in the Big West and boasted All-American and future Olympian Jennifer Joines. The Tigers were the No. 12 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. But they were no match for Nevada in their regular-season contest as the Wolf Pack won, 3-0 (the match was played seven days after 9/11 and marked Nevada's first game post-tragedy). The Wolf Pack went 17-7 that season, getting an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament in large part because of the win over Pacific, the alma mater of Nevada coach Devin Scruggs. Pacific got revenge the following year, beating Nevada, 3-2, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Men's golf

2017 Jackrabbit Invitational: With back-to-back NCAA Regional berths, Nevada men's golf has leveled up in recent years, and the first big breakthrough was winning the 2017 Jackrabbit Invitational. In that season, Nevada had three straight runner-up finishes in the fall before winning that spring event at the Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas for its first tournament victory since 2009. In doing so, the Wolf Pack bested rival UNLV, which was ranked 17th in the nation. It was Nevada's first win over the Rebels in nearly a decade. The Wolf Pack wasn't even supposed to play in the event, but a cancellation earlier in the week led to a last-minute tournament change, and Nevada cashed in. The Wolf Pack’s three-round team score of 823 was the second-lowest 54-hole total in program history. It finished at 41-under par, setting a program record. UNLV finishes second in the 12-school field at 34 under.

Women's golf

2000 Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic: The answer here almost came last year as the Wolf Pack entered the Mountain West Championship ranked seventh in the conference but came within one shot of winning the tournament. The Wolf Pack nearly overcame a 10-shot final-round deficit to win its first conference title, and led in the final holes before SDSU won by a stroke (Nevada did beat rival UNLV, which was seeking its fourth straight MW title, and No. 27-ranked San Jose State). Since the Wolf Pack didn't win that event, we have to pick a different tournament. Nevada has won nine events in its history, the most impressive coming in the 2000 Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic in which the Wolf Pack shot a team score of 878 (fourth best in school history). It marked Nevada's second straight win at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic, and Angie Yoon won the individual title, one of her program-best nine victories.

Men's tennis

2015 vs. No. 38 San Diego State: The best season in Nevada men's tennis history came in 1981 when the Wolf Pack went 35-3 and won the Big Sky, but the best win goes to the 2015 team, which nearly rallied to an unlikely Mountain West championship. Nevada entered the MW Tournament at 7-15 before stunning No. 67-ranked Utah State, which was 18-8. The Wolf Pack won that matchup, 4-2, to advance to the semifinals, where it faced No. 38-ranked San Diego State (18-7), which had whipped the Wolf Pack, 5-1, in the regular season. But Nevada was equally as dominant in the rematch, taking a 4-1 victory to advance to its first MW Tournament title matchup. Unfortunately for Nevada, the seventh-seeded Wolf Pack was unable to complete the miracle run, losing to No. 5 seed Boise State, 4-3, in the title match to fall just shy of the first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

Women's tennis

1992 Big Sky Conference: The 1992 Big Sky championship is the only title in program history, although the Big Sky didn't start playing a traditional conference tournament until 1993, so the Wolf Pack won the 1992 crown by going 5-0 in an eight-team round-robin event to win the conference, besting second-place Idaho State (4-1) and Weber State (4-1) en route to the title. Nevada steamrolled second-place Weber State, 5-1, so we'll mark that as the best win in program history. The team was led by Tracey King, the first four-time first-team player in Big Sky history. In 1992, King won the Big Sky singles championship and the doubles title with teammate Mary Innes. Nevada's Kurt Richter was named the Big Sky coach of the year.


1956 NRA Championship: The Wolf Pack, buoyed by All-Americans Ryan Tanoue and Holly Caraway, finished second in the nation in the 2004 rifle championships. But second isn't first, and Nevada did win a national title in 1956, so we'll give the nod to that victory. This 1956 team won the first team national championship in Wolf Pack athletics history and was the second team inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame behind the 1979 women's swim and dive team. This rifle team won the national title with a record 1,443 points out of a possible 1,500. Coached by Sgt. Joel Cantrell, the team had a pair of All-Americans (Terry Katzer and Bill Rusk) and also won the prestigious 31-team Southwest Invitational.

Women's swimming and diving

1999 Big West Championships: This is a difficult one because Nevada won the 1979 AIAW national championship, although that was in the small college level, so that'd be like picking an FCS football win over an FBS football win. The program's 11 conference titles are the third most among active teams on campus behind men's basketball and football, so there are plenty to chose from. The Wolf Pack was dominant from 1996-2000, winning five straight Big West titles, and also has the only MW women's title since Nevada moved to the conference in 2012, securing that victory in 2016. We'll go with the 1999 Big West title because Nevada won a ridiculous 20 events in the meet and went on to finish 14th in the NCAA Championships, the second-best placement of a non-Power 5 school that year. That is the second-best finish in nationals in school history behind the team's 13th-place finish in the 2000 NCAAs.

Women's track and field

2004 WAC championship (indoor): The Nevada women's track and field team has won three conference titles in its history, including the 2000 Big West outdoor and 2003 and 2004 WAC indoors. It's harder to win an outdoor championship than an indoor one because there are more events, so it's a truer gauge of a champion, so hat tip to the 2000 Big West win, but Nevada's best team was its 2004 squad, which won the WAC indoors. Nevada tallied 151 points (second-place Louisiana Tech scored 116 points). The Wolf Pack won three individual events in the meet, and Curt Kraft was named WAC coach of the year. Pentathlete Maranda Brownson finished 13th in the NCAA Championships that season.

Men's track and field

1993 Big West championship (outdoor): This program, which was shuttered in the 1990s, won 18 conference championships, including the second in any sport in school history in 1926. We'll pick the program's last title before being shuttered as its greatest victory. Nevada won the 1993 Big West outdoor meet with a score of 230 points (Utah State was second at 196). The program was folded after the 1994 season. The Wolf Pack won seven individual events in the 1993 Big West meet, and Roger Bowen was named conference coach of the year. Nevada had two All-Americans that season in Sherman Morris (11th in the 110-meter hurdles) and Mattias Borrman (12th in the hammer). The Wolf Pack added two first-team All-Americans in 1994 in Brandon Rock (eighth in the 800 meters) and Enoch Borozinsk (national champ in the decathlon) before the program was shut down to increase Title IX compliance.

Women's cross country

2003 WAC Championship: The Nevada women's cross country team has won two conference championships in its history, the 2003 WAC title and 1964 California Collegiate Conference Championship. I'll be honest in admitting I know nothing about the 1964 title, so I'm going with the 2003 WAC crown as the best win in program history (although Nevada also won the 2017 Pre National meet in Louisville, its first win away from home in 10 years, so that could have made the cut, but that was in the "B" race). We'll stick with the 2003 WAC title, which came on the heels of the Wolf Pack winning the Chile Pepper Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., so that was an elite squad led by WAC runner of the year Abigail McAllister and All-American Kali Baker Bennett. That marks the last time Nevada cross country has won a conference title, which will he difficult repeat in the MW, an elite distance running conference.

Men's cross country

1983 Big Sky Championship: Jack Cook built a dynasty at Nevada while serving as men's cross country and track and field coach at Nevada from 1967-88. His teams won 16 conference titles, including 10 in cross country, where he was undefeated in dual meets (58-0), so there are a lot of victories to choose from. We'll pick the program's last conference title as its best. It came in the 1983 Big Sky meet in which the Wolf Pack crushed the field. Nevada finished in first place with 32 points (Northern Arizona was second with 78 points; the lower the better in cross country). Nevada's Derrick May won the event by 17.5 seconds and teammates Steve Blakemore (third), David Minter (seventh) and Chris Davids (ninth) all finished in the top 10. The Wolf Pack went on to finish third in its district that season. After being shuttered in the 1990s, men's cross country returned to Nevada for the 2019-20 season.


1976 NCBA Championship: Boxing was disbanded as a sanctioned NCAA sport when a boxer died during the 1960 national championships, so we'll instead have to look at the post-NCAA results. The National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) was founded in 1976 as a non-profit version of club college boxing, and Nevada won the first NCBA championship. The Wolf Pack has won four national titles since then, adding crowns in 1978, 1991, 1993 and 2015, but we will give the nod to the first club to do so, which helped keep college boxing alive.


1959 Pacific Coast Conference: The now-defunct program has finished top-10 in the nation 15 times, and the best team in school history was the 1959 squad that placed sixth nationally while scoring a program-best 460.1 points in the national championship. In 1959, Nevada won the Pacific Coast Conference, which was the precursor to the Pac-12.

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