Nevada women fall to Louisiana Tech
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada found out firsthand that reports of Louisiana Tech’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
The Lady Techsters, who suffered back-to-back home losses to Boise State and Nevada that snapped a 114-game home conference win streak, out-rebounded and out-hustled the Pack en route to a 73-62 win Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center.
The loss dropped Nevada into a second-place tie with the Lady Techsters. Both teams are 6-2 in Western Athletic Conference play.
“The difference was that they came up with loose balls and made the hustle plays which is disappointing,” Nevada coach Kim Gervasoni said. “They seemed to have more heart.
“They really hurt us inside; points in the paint (44). They were chasing down the long rebounds (42-33 overall). The first half I thought we blocked out well, but didn’t jump for the ball. The second half we didn’t seem to block out as well.”
Tech coach Chris Long admitted that the back-to-back home losses upset his team. It has won two straight since, knocking off Fresno 78-40 at home and now Nevada.
“The kids understand the history of winning 114 in a row at home. I told them it’s time to bow your back, and our players responded. They want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I’m proud of this basketball team. We overcame a lot of adversity tonight. They (Nevada) shot 20 foul shots in the first half and we only shot four, and we had a couple of starters on the bench with foul trouble. We didn’t get off to a good start, that’s one of the things I meant by adversity. The kids kept their heads up and kept playing hard.”
Tech went on a 12-3 run in 4 1/2 minutes to take a 30-23 lead with 2:44 left in the first half, but Nevada regained a little momentum by scoring the final five points of the half to make it 30-28.
The only thing that kept Nevada close was its 13-for-20 effort at the foul line, and the play of Marissa Hammond, who scored a career-high 11 points, all in the first half.
“She’s a good player,” Gervasoni said. “She gets better everyday in practice. Her offensive game is ahead of her defensive game at this point.”
The momentum that Nevada built at the end of the first half vanished quickly, however.
Tech went on a 13-3 run for a 43-31 lead with 15:02 left in the game. Nevada went 0-for-5 from the floor and turned the ball over twice in the span.
“We should be fired up,” said guard Dellena Criner, who led all scorers with 21 points. “We want to set the tempo, but weren’t able to do that.”
Blame that on Tech’s execution at both ends of the floor.
“I felt like we executed in the half court,” Long said. “We controlled the paint, and I felt like the guards stepped up and made plays.”
Shan Moore (12 points), who scored only two points because of three first-half fouls which forced her to the bench, scored on a short jump shot and putback for a 34-28 lead. After a Marianne Lomabrdi free throw, Ty Moore and Amber Metoyer scored to make it 38-29. Nevada’s Andrea Sitton rattled one in from the top of the key, but a bucket by JoKierra Sneed (19 points, 6 rebounds) and a trey by Metoyer made it 43-31.
Thanks to some aggressive play by Bre’Anna Henry plus buckets by Jessica Preslar and Criner, the Pack went on a 7-0 run to make it 43-38. That’s as close as Nevada would get the rest of the way.
Tech’s Nastassj Levingston knocked down a 3-pointer to spark a 9-2 run for a 52-40 lead. The run featured two more buckets by Sneed, who gave the Lady Techsters a tremendous lift off the bench.
“She’s an improving basketball player,” Long said. “She’s playing very good. She stepped up and made a lot of plays.”
Nevada’s Traci Graham, who played only three minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, twisted her ankle at the start of the Tech run, and she never returned.
That made a big difference, according to Gervasoni.
“She never got in a rhythm tonight,” Gervasoni said. “I could have put her back in, but I wanted her rested for the Hawai’i game (on Saturday in Honolulu).”
Nevada only twice cut Tech’s lead to single digits in the last eight minutes, but didn’t get consistent scoring from anybody other than Criner.
“Dellena Criner is a very good player,” Long said. “She has the ability to dog her opponent for however long she plays, and then come down and make plays offensively.”
Criner, who had nine of her 21 in the final eight minutes, was asked how the team would respond. The team had just several hours of sleep before catching a 6 a.m. flight to Honolulu.
“We have to learn from it,” Criner said. “We have to emphasize our defense, which was lacking today. We beat Hawai’i once, but it’s still tough going over there to play.”