Lady Techsters outlast Nevada in WAC semis |

Lady Techsters outlast Nevada in WAC semis

Darrell Moody

RENO – The Nevada-Louisiana Tech game could be considered one for the ages.

Two of the best teams in the WAC battled on near-even terms for 40 minutes. There were 11 ties, 15 lead changes and the teams were separated by no more than six points the entire night.

In the end, it was an eight-point run in a span of two minutes that tilted the game in Tech’s favor, and enabled the Lady Techsters to grab an 80-77 win over Nevada Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament at Lawlor Events Center.

It was a rematch of last year’s semifinal game won by Nevada, 91-88 in overtime.

This one went down to the wire. Nevada’s Shavon Moore got a last-second steal. Johnna Ward threw up a potential game-tying 3-pointer that went off the glass and rim but didn’t drop.

“We wanted to win this game and this was one of the best games we’ve played all year,” Nevada head coach Jane Albright said. “We controlled what we could control today.”

“It was a hard-fought battle between two teams who didn’t want to lose,” Tech coach Theresa Weatherspoon said. ‘We had to fight hard down the stretch.”

Tech shot 68 percent from the floor in the second half and 53 percent for the game. The Lady Techsters, thanks to Shanavia Dowdell (24 points, 9 rebounds) and Adrienne Johnson (29 points, 4 rebounds) were too much for Nevada to handle, especially with Shavon Moore and Kayla Williams hampered with four fouls.

As dominant as Dowdell and Johnson were on the inside, it was an outside shot by Johnson that turned the game in the Lady Techsters’ favor.

A lay-up by Amanda Johnson and a short jump shot by Moore (16 points, 11 rebounds) gave Nevada a 73-72 lead with 2:45 remaining.

Adrienne Johnson, who had been driving past whoever Nevada put in front of her, found herself open at the foul line extended. She drained the shot to give Tech a 74-73 lead, leading to the aforementioned 8-2 run.

“When the crowd gets involved as much as Nevada’s did while we were down, we needed to score right then,” Weatherspoon said. “It was the biggest shot of the game.”

“I was looking down low (at Shanavia), but she was covered,” Adrienne Johnson said. “I had an open look and just took it.”

Moore missed under pressure on the ensuing possession, but it didn’t hurt as Tarkeshia Wysinger missed two free throws. Nevada turned the ball over on its next possession, as Amanda Johnson’s cross-court pass was tipped. Whitney Johnson drained two free throws with 1:19 left to make it 76-73. Ward hit a short jump shot to make it 76-75, but a bucket by Adrienne Johnson made it 78-75.

Nevada ha a chance to tie it on the next possession, but Kayla Williams’ short jump shot went off the back iron.

Albright indicated after the game that wasn’t the shot that she wanted in that situation.

Jasmine Bendolph nailed two free throws to make it 80-75 with 25 seconds left. Moore scored with 6.3 left to make it 80-77. Moore stole the inbound pass, and the ball got to Ward, who missed a desperation 3-pointer from about 25 feet.

Nevada was hurt by foul trouble much of the second half. Williams picked up her fourth foul with 12:39 left, and came back in about three minutes later. Moore picked up her fourth foul with 8:13 left and didn’t return until 3:22 remained. Tech outscored Nevada 11-10 in that span.

Nevada dropped to 17-15 for the season, but coach Jane Albright said her team deserves to be in the post-season. The women’s CBI has been added, so there are three postseason opportunities for the women this year.

“I expect to be in postseason,” Albright said. “I expect the WAC to do their job. We have a great basketball team. We should be in a tournament.”

According to Albright, the CBI has talked to Nevada about its tournament.