Nevada women beat Louisiana Tech

RENO - Dellena Criner had no clue she was about to make Wolf Pack history.

"Honestly, I didn't know about it until yesterday," said Criner, whose sister informed her that she was near the 1,000-point career mark. "It wasn't on my mind."

The junior point guard reached the milestone on a lead-changing 3-pointer and helped Nevada hand Louisiana Tech its first loss in Reno. The Wolf Pack beat the Lady Techsters for the second time in the last three tries, 74-70, Thursday night in front of 575 fans at Lawlor Events Center.

"We just showed a lot of fight and grit," Nevada coach Kim Gervasoni said. "We battled and didn't give up. We didn't give them extended runs. It was back and forth."

Nevada improves to 4-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, 13-5 overall, after losing its lone conference game last week at Boise State. Tech drops to 2-3 in the WAC, 8-10, but still holds a 13-2 edge over the Wolf Pack.

"It feels good to beat La. Tech here, especially," Nevada forward Bre'Anna Henry said. "Our defense, our energy, everyone put out effort."

Criner led four players in double figures with 17 points, including 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Brandi Fitzgerald and Mikail Price each scored 12 points and Henry added 11.

"It was a tough win. A W's a W, so we're going to take it," said Criner, who became the eighth Nevada player to reach 1,000 points. Senior Tracy Graham accomplished the feat last season.

Trailing 68-67 with 3:28 left, Criner squared up to the basket and launched her second 3-pointer of the game to give Nevada the lead. Fans stood up and cheered during the next break, recognizing Criner's accomplishment.

"I'm just really proud of her," Gervasoni said. "D has put in so much work. She's one of the hardest workers I've ever coached. She's taken thousands and thousands of 3s (in the offseason) to improve her outside shot. What's scary is she has a year and a half left."

But it was defense that helped Nevada win the game and stay in the top three in the WAC standings.

Nevada out-gained Louisiana Tech in blocking (7-4) and steals (13-9), which proved effective during a four-minute stretch in the second half and allowed the Wolf Pack to regain the lead. Nevada led by as many as eight points in the first half and had a 39-34 halftime lead.

"Every win is great and it's sweet that we're setting new standards every game and every year," Gervasoni said. "I just believe in my players that they can beat anybody."

The Wolf Pack trailed 65-60 with six minutes left before Price hit a 3-pointer and Henry scored off an inbounds pass to tie the game.

"Mikail's 3 was huge," Gervasoni said. "That was our catalyst to make a run. It was a great team effort."

Although Natassj Levingston came back with a 3-pointer, Nevada shut down the Lady Techsters for the rest of the game. Tech went scoreless for 4 minutes, 6 seconds before hitting a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left.

"We got 10 stops down the stretch and that was huge. It was awesome," Gervasoni said.

JoKeirra Sneed and Adrienne Johnson each scored 18 points for the Lady Techsters, and Shanavia Dowdell had 14. Tarkeisha Wysinger finished with 11 points.

Nevada hosts second-place New Mexico State on Saturday at 6 p.m. before traveling to league-leading Fresno State next week. The Aggies ended the Wolf Pack's season last year in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament.

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