LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Kyle Shiloh's absence hurt Nevada immensely in its 79-77 WAC semifinal loss to Utah State Friday night at the Pan American Center.
Shiloh, who suffered a strained hamstring in Wednesday's quarterfinal win over Idaho, didn't even suit up.
Shiloh's absence meant that Lyndale Burleson, with help from freshman Brandon Fields, had to shoulder the load of guarding Jaycee Carroll, the WAC's top scorer.
Carroll, who went 7-for-18 from the field, finished with 24, his best-ever effort against the Wolf Pack. His previous best was 18 points in last week's overtime win over Nevada.
"Kyle is an impact player and of course it hurt not having him," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "Kyle is the best defender we have, and he's traditionally done a good job on Jaycee. He (Carroll) is a great player.
"Kyle is a complete player. Marcelus Kemp got two fouls in the first half. Our rotation was affected. Kyle has been here three straight years. I don't want Kyle's absence to take anything away from Utah's win. They played well."
Carroll said there wasn't that much of a dropoff with Shiloh out of the game.
"Burleson did a good job; he was active," Carroll said. "He chased me everywhere. He played hard and didn't give me much space."
Utah State went on a 10-0 run in the second half to take a 60-57 lead, and Carroll scored eight in that run.
NEVADA LOSS HELPS
Nevada's loss will force the NCAA to take two teams from the WAC into the tournament.
Nevada, at 28-4, is a virtual lock for the tournament, and will get an at-large bid. The Pack, however, may see their seed drop as low as six or seven, and they may end up being shipped out of the West.
Utah State coach Stew Morrill said this has been a special team.
The team certainly deserves to be a lock for the NIT if it doesn't win the championship tonight, especially when you consider the Aggies beat Nevada twice. Heck, WAC people are talking about three teams in the tournament from the WAC.
"They are a very resilient group of guys," Morrill said. "Throughout the season we had our highs and lows. Twenty-three wins with these guys is high, but we have also lost a few and when we lost we really looked poor. However it is a battle to put up with me and they have a done a good job of it."
SWAN SONG FOR PERERA
Fresno State senior Chantella Perera finished her career as the No. 8 scorer (1,222 points), No. 4 in 3-point field goals (146), No. 2 in free-throw percentage (79.6), No. 4 in free throws made (290), No. 7 free throws attempted and 10th in assists (276).
"It's not the way I wanted to go out," Perera said. "It's tough because we wanted to finish the other way, but we didn't play well and didn't deserve to win. It breaks my heart, but we had a good year.
"I want to thank my teammates and coaches. It's been the best four years of my life and I had a journey of a lifetime. I love my coaches so much and thank them for the opportunity and all the wonderful times."
SNUB PUMPS UP NEAL
Sherrell Neal, who was second in scoring and first in rebounding, was left off the all-WAC first team, which is determined by the conference head coaches.
She said that the snub motivated her this week.
"I think I should have been first team," said Neal, who scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. "I wanted to show people that I should have made first team and prove them wrong."
SO LONG SENIORS
The Nevada women's loss ended the careers of seniors Jessica Preslar and Traci Graham, and Gervasoni was brought to tears when asked to talk about them.
Preslar scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Graham scored 17, but was an ice-cold 6-for-25 from the field.
"We've been through a lot together," Gervasoni said. "I appreciate all their love, dedication and hard work. I know they will be successful in whatever they plan to do in the future. I want to publicly thank them for everything they have done for me and the program."
AN ANGRY COACH?
According to bystanders, Fox was upset with the officlating crew, and in the closing seconds of the game he was berating Bill Gracey, who called the game's last foul on freshman Matt LaGrone.
Commissioner Karl Benson issued a terse "no comment" when asked if there was a problem after the game involving the Nevada coach and the game officials.
•Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281