Criner earns POW award

Criner earns POW award

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

Dellena Criner enjoyed one of the biggest weeks of her Nevada career, and the Wolf Pack junior was honored with the Western Athletic Conference Women's Player of the Week award.

Criner averaged a whopping 31 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 assists in leading the Wolf Pack to a road split last weekend. She shot 67 percent from the field and 87 percent from the line.

Nevada beat Idaho 70-54 and lost to Boise State 82-74, and stands at 3-1 after two weekends of conference play.

"She didn't force things," Nevada coach Kim Gervasoni said. "She took what the defense gave her. Brandi (Fitzgerald) and Mikail (Price) were in foul trouble at Boise State, so she knew she had to step up and score.

"She's smart with the ball. She finds ways to get to the basket. She is also a great defensive player. She does so much for us."

Criner leads the WAC in scoring at 18.1 a game, and she needs 16 points to reach the 1,000-point plateau. She currently sits in seventh place all time. Nevada has six players who have scored 1,000 or more.

The all-time leader is Chris Starr, who scored 2,356 in her four-year career.

WAC IS RANKED 19TH

The conference is ranked 19th among 32, according to WAC commissioner Karl Benson.

As far as individual teams go, the Nevada men were 65th last week, but dropped to 95th after its split with Idaho and Boise State. Utah State is ranked 100 and Boise State is 142nd. New Mexico State has played probably the toughest schedule, but already has 10 losses.

No doubt the WAC has several NIT-caliber teams, including Nevada, Utah State, New Mexico State and Boise State. It's a safe bet one of those four will win the WAC Tournament in Las Cruces. There is also a third post-season tournament this year, the College Basketball Invitational. One would think between the three tournaments, the WAC could get 3 or 4 teams into post-season depending on how things play out.

BRACKETBUSTER CONCERNS

Benson admitted he's concerned that the WAC may even be left out of any of the TV matchups this season.

Nevada is the 11th-best designated road team and Utah State is the highest ranked designated home team at No. 12.

Earlier reports indicated there could be 14 games broadcasted. Benson said the amount of games televised could depend on the matchups. ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU show the contests.

Right now, the most attractive matchup could be Saint Mary's College and Drake. SMC is 14-2 and Drake is 18-1.

BIG NIGHT AT UTAH STATE

It was a record-setting week when Utah State knocked off Boise State on Thursday and then edged Idaho on Saturday.

On Thursday, USU coach Stew Morrill became the school's all-time winningest coach when he recorded his 226th win, passing E. Lowell Romney, and on Saturday, Jaycee Carroll scored 21 points to become the school's all-time scoring leader with 2,147 points. He passed Gary Grant, who had 2,127 career points.

Carroll also was named the men's player of the week. It's the fourth time he's won the honor in his four-year career, and the second time this season.

MORE UTAH STATE

Utah State leads the conference with a 4-0 record, and the Aggies are the only team not to hit the road in that span because of the postponement with Nevada on Jan. 5.

Morrill said he can't remember having this long of a stretch at home (35 days). Utah State started the lengthy homestand on Dec. 15 and is 8-0 in that stretch.

"It will be good to get on the road," Morrill said. "With the Nevada game (on Feb. 11), we have a bunch of road games. We've had a couple of one-game weeks and two three-game weeks in conference play.

"It's probably too long to be at home. It puts a lot of pressure on you game after game to hold your home court. We were not good on the road early (in the season). I'd like to think we've gotten better."

GIBSON ON FIRE

Louisiana Tech's 6-foot-4 Kyle Gibson scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half of the Bulldogs' loss to New Mexico State.

"Kyle has become a guy we look to carry on our back," first-year Tech coach Kerry Rupp said. "We've had to use him as a 'big' because we are undersized this year. He's been learning how to defend big, strong guys. Next year, he will be out on the perimeter.''

Gibson scored Tech's last 17 points of the game, getting Tech to within four points late in the game.

"He got into a zone," said John McMullen, New Mexico State assistant coach. "He had six 3-pointers, and some of them were outside pro (NBA) range. He got into a nice groove. He was playing like he was possessed."

Morrill also is concerned about going up against Gibson.

"He's a guard playing more of a post position," Morrill said. "You can't quite figure out how to match up with him. If you put a post player on him, he 's so quick. If you put a guard on him, he'll post you up a great deal of the time. He hurt us last year, too."

MORE FSU WOES

Bryan Harvey, who transferred from Louisville, has been suspended for the rest of the season, according to Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland.

Harvey is the second starter to be removed from the team. Earlier, starting center Rekalin Sims, a senior, was dismissed from the squad.

Cleveland said that Dwight O'Neill was scheduled to see a doctor today. O'Neill, who has played just four games all season because of an injury, would be a welcome addition if he is able to return.

"It might be another two weeks or it might be the rest of the season," Cleveland said. "It would give us some depth (if he returns)."

FAN EJECTED

Benson said that a fan was ejected from the New Mexico State-Louisiana Tech game last weekend.

Benson said that game officials have the authority to remove fans from arenas if they use obscenities and vulgar language. Benson said more than one official Identified the guilty party and NMSU personnel took over from there.

Benson also said that memos were sent to all nine WAC schools about sportsmanship.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281

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