Nevada Wolf Pack women seek 1st NCAA berth
NEVADA (17-15) VS. BOISE STATE (22-9)
When: Friday, Noon
Where: Thomas & Mack Center
Last meeting: BSU 63-55 in Reno
At stake: A spot in the NCAA Tournament. If Boise loses it has an automatic NIT bid based on its No. 1 seed entering the tournament.
LAS VEGAS — Nevada hopes to make a little history when it squares off against top-seeded Boise State on Friday at noon in the Mountain West women’s championship game.
Nevada reached the conference finals for the first time since 2009, but the school has never made it to the NCAA. The Pack wants to change that.
It’s been a great first year for Amanda Levens, who was an assistant on Kim Gervasoni’s staff, and then left to pursue other opportunities. She came back to the Pack after Jane Albright retired at the end of last season.
“For us, we believed we could compete for a conference championship,” Levens said. “I did. Coaching our team, watching them on film before I took the job, I didn’t feel like we were that far away. That is one of the things that intrigued me about the job.
“We had to learn how to win. We had to have a lot of tough losses to really understand how to get over the hump and not do things in those situations that was making us beat ourselves.”
In eight of the 11 conference losses, Nevada lost by a 32 points, and five of those defeats were by four points or less.
Nevada has beat the No. 2 (UNLV) and No. 3 seed (Wyoming) in the tournament. Two of the three wins were in overtime, including a double-OT win against UNLV.
Nevada split its season series against Boise State, winning at Boise, 72-68, and losing at home, 63-55.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Levens said. “We need to come out ready to play. I feel like we’re playing well. It will be tough. Every game here has been tough so far.”
Not for Boise State. The Broncos comfortably beat Air Force, 60-46, and then destroyed Colorado State, 76-51. BSU is trying to win its third MW title in four years.
“I hope (the past experience) is helpful,” BSU coach Gordy Presnell said. “We’ve had a good run the past few years.
“Obviously if we shoot as well as we did today (actually Wednesday against Colorado State), we’ll be formidable. Nevada is good. Hopefully our experience helps.”
“It means everything,” said former Reno High star Shalen Shaw when asked what playing for another MW title means. “To do that in three of the four years is impeccable, and I think our team is in the right mindset to get it done. It’s a big thing for our school and our team.”
Shaw, the only active senior, averages 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists a contest. Riley Lupfer leads the Broncos at 16.3 a game, and Marta Hermida is at 10.9. Ma Vanderschaaf averages 9.4.