Nevada women beat Fresno State

RENO - Dellena Criner fired the shot heard round the WAC.

The freshman point guard scored a layup with 2.9 seconds left Thursday night to power Nevada past conference-leading Fresno State 68-67 before 491 fans at Lawlor Events Center.

"Just being strong with the ball, staying focused and composed," said Criner, who finished with eight points and two steals. "I wanted us to keep playing to the end. We had a game plan and we executed it."

The Wolf Pack (10-14, 6-6 WAC) trailed by one with 8.8 seconds left after Mirenda Swearingen swished a short jumper. Criner took the inbounds pass and drove down the floor for the easy layup.

"We wanted to go to Brandi (Fitzgerald) deep if she was there, but they sent their centerfielder back. The second option was Dellena," Nevada coach Kim Gervasoni said. "When I recruited Dellena, I knew she could get a shot off.

"This was a breakout game for Dellena. Dellena was one of the best point guards in the country tonight."

Meghan McGuire led Nevada with 25 points and Traci Graham added nine, including two critical 3-pointers.

"Some of the shots I threw up, I didn't know how they went in," McGuire joked. "It's a huge win for the program and a boost for us."

Graham felt her team executed well enough to get the win over the Bulldogs (18-6, 10-2 WAC).

"It feels so good to win," Graham said. "We came out and did what we needed to win. We did what it took."

After Swearingen scored her 11th point, Nevada didn't roll over unlike previous years.

Instead, Gervasoni said her team was confident and believed it could win the game.

"They're learning to bounce back," the third-year coach said. "Their focus is so much better. They're finally trusting the coaching staff 100 percent."

Gervasoni feels this was one of the biggest wins coaching at Nevada.

"It's one of the biggest wins in my three years," Gervasoni said. "We're definitely peaking at the end."

Amy Parish, Fresno State's leading scorer averaging 15.5 points per game, fouled out with 7:22 left and was held to nine points.

"I was so into the game. I didn't realize she had four (fouls)," Gervasoni said about Parish. "I was a little surprised she had five and was in there at that point."

Nevada saw an 8-point lead, 63-55, dwindle down after the three-minute mark in the game. The Bulldogs tied the game at 63 when Chantella Perera sunk two free throws with 1:12 left.

Graham gave the Pack the lead after sinking a free throw, but Tierre Wilson put the Bulldogs ahead, 65-64, on a field goal with 27.9 left. Wilson led Fresno State with 20 points and Swearingen added 11.

Criner laced a layup with 17.9 left before a Nevada turnover led to Swearingen's basket.

Nevada's largest lead of the game, 47-37, came when McGuire scored on an inbounded pass.

Graham's two 3-pointers added momentum when the first gave the Pack a 60-51 lead and the second at 63-55.

Even though Nevada was outrebounded by four, the Pack shot 54 percent from the floor in contrast to Fresno State's 47.

Nevada hosts Idaho Saturday afternoon for its final regular season game in Reno. The Pack will honor seniors Kate Saltmarsh and Salaia Salave'a prior to the 2 p.m. tipoff.

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