RENO-After falling to arch-rival Douglas in the last seconds of Tuesday's game, the Carson girls basketball team had two challenges: One - to try and bounce back emotionally and two - to do it on the road against a North Valleys team that was tied for first place with Reno in the Sierra League.
The Lady Senators were successful on all counts and took a 50-39 win over the Lady Panthers at North Valleys High School on Friday.
The win moved Carson to 8-11 overall, but far more important it improved to 4-1 in conference play.
Senior Rosella Nunez hit three 3-pointers and had an eight-point fourth quarter to pace the way for the Senators. Nunez finished with a game-high 18 points, senior center Nicole Scott added 12 and freshman guard Brandi Vega contributed nine and went 6-of-8 from the foul line in the fourth quarter for Carson.
"Carson played well," said fifth-year Panthers coach Matt Murphy. "They hit a lot of free throws at the end of the game. (The win) had more to do with their guards' play. They didn't allow us an entry position to pass to (6-foot-4 center Anita Burdick). They pressured our guards and made it a little tough to get entry passes to her."
North Valleys dropped to 4-1 in Sierra League play, 13-5 overall, and was led by Burdick, who scored 17 points.
"We knew Burdick would be strong inside," Nunez said. "We were trying to help our forwards as much as we could."
The Senators had to rally after falling behind 13-6 by the end of the first quarter. Burdick scored seven points in the period, including 3-of-4 from the foul line.
"She (Burdick) is a real solid player - she's very well coached," Senators coach Ric Garcia said. "Sometimes we put two or three players on her. We were trying to take away what she's strong at, which is going to the basket. She has a nice little hook off the backboard."
Carson came alive in the second quarter and a pair of threes by Nunez put the Senators up 16-15 and completed an 8-0 run. The teams traded the lead, but a Vega 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in the half gave Carson the 22-21 lead at the break.
Burdick gave North Valleys the lead, 27-26, at 3:54 of the third, but the Senators got out of the period with a 30-29 advantage.
After a Nunez 3-pointer put the Senators up 35-33 with 5:43 to go before Burdick tied it up with a short jumper. But Carson closed strong and finished with a 15-4 run.
"The win was huge," Vega said. "If we didn't win, we'd be in a hole. It boosted up our confidence. (Before the game) we said, 'Keep working harder and get less fouls.' We did. Now we have a win in (North Valley's) house. It will give us more confidence when we play them in our house."
Nunez said the win was a result of a tough schedule this year.
"It felt good. It was a quality win," Nunez said. "We've been fighting good teams like Reed, McQueen and Douglas - which was a heartbreaker. It feels good to come up with a win."
Garcia said his team played a smart game.
"We stayed out of foul trouble," Garcia said. "We could've been more aggressive, but we won. (North Valleys) got into foul trouble early. We've won every game when we've got to the line more than (Carson's opponents) have.
"We also wanted to go to the basket more this game - and we did. We were breaking their press and getting to the basket - Rosella especially. We tried to get Rosella shooting more than 40 percent with less shots. We're not a team that's blessed with a lot of shooters, so the ones we do have need to shoot."
Carson will host South Tahoe today at 3:15 p.m.
"South Tahoe scored 60-some points against Hug. They can score," Garcia said. "We have them at home, which is an advantage. But that doesn't mean anything if we take it lightly."