Criner’s surge leads Nevada women’s hoops to win | NevadaAppeal.com

Criner’s surge leads Nevada women’s hoops to win

BY DARRELL MOODY

Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” The Nevada women’s basketball team needed a spark, and senior guard Dellena Criner provided a big one.

With Nevada holding just 42-40 with 13 minutes, 41 seconds left in the game, Criner scored eight straight points and the Wolf Pack women went on to a season-opening 64-49 victory over Eastern Washington Friday at Lawlor Events Center.

The Nevada win spoiled the homecoming of former Carson High School standout Nicole Scott, who had two points, five rebounds and two blocked shots for the Eagles.

First-year Nevada coach Jane Albright was especially pleased with the play of her defense, which forced 19 turnovers and held the Eagles to 30.5 percent from the floor, including a 25.9 percentage in the final 20 minutes.

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“Anytime you hold a team to 49 points, you’ve done a nice job defensively,” Albright said. “Our defensive effort was really, really nice. You can’t play horse with a team like that. That’s what they want you to do. We wanted to make them put it on the floor and drive. We need to be a great defensive team.”

On the flip side, the final 13:41 was a nightmare for Eastern Washington coach Wendy Schuller.

In that span, the Eagles went 3-for-17 (scoring just eight points) and turned the ball over eight times.

“We missed how many layups,” Schuller said to nobody in particular. “We have to knock those down. I would have liked to get to the line more. They made 10 more free throws than we attempted (Nevada was 21-for-29 compared to 7-for-11for the Eagles). We have to figure out a better way to get to the line.

“Criner is a heck of a player. That is why she was the WAC Preseason Player of the Year. She did a fabulous job. In crunch time, Criner makes the baskets for them.”

Criner, who led all scorers with 20 points, knocked down two free throws to make it 44-40, and after Julie Piper missed a layup, Criner came down and knocked down a 3-pointer. After a series of missed shots and turnovers by both teams, Criner had a steal that she converted into a three-point play and a 50-40 lead with 11 minutes left.

Criner, who missed her first four shots, went 6-for-7 from the floor in the second half.

“The whole team tells me to keep shooting,” Criner said. “That helped spark me a little bit.”

Cherlanda Franklin finished with 12 points and five rebounds, and Shavon Moore tallied 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The first half featured five ties, and neither team shot well, Eastern Washington shot 34.4 percent and Nevada 33.3.

Nevada used an 11-2 run to snap a 21-all tie and grab a 32-23 advantage with 2:18 left in the half.

Johnna Ward banked home a 3-pointer from the left side to start the surge, and then Marissa Hammond blocked a shot at the other end and then drained a layup. Eastern Washington’s Julie Piper scored on a putback to make it 26-23 with 4:30 remaining.

The Eagles made two unsuccessful trips down the floor, and Dellena Criner made them pay for the second one with a nifty three-point play. After an Eagles misfire, Franklin was fouled and made a free throw to make it 30-23.

Two more Franklin free throws made it 32-23 with 2:18 left. Brianne Ryan ended the skid with a 3-pointer to make it 32-26. Criner made it an eight-point game with a driving layup, but Kyla Evans’ 3-pointer made it a five-point game at the half, 34-29.

Hammond had seven points in eight minutes of work in the first half. She also blocked a shot, had one steal and grabbed one rebound.

“I thought she played very well,” Albright said. “I would expect more points from her. I’m not surprised at all by that. She’s a strong post player.”

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or (775) 881-1281

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