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Nevada women set to face Louisiana Tech

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Nevada has to do three things to beat the Lady Techsters in today’s (11 a.m, 630AM) quarterfinal game at Pan American Center – force Louisiana Tech to start its offense further away from the basket, play good interior defense and shoot a decent percentage.

Nevada (18-11), the No. 4 seed, split two regular-season games against the Lady Techsters of Louisiana Tech (15-14). The teams played less than a week ago. Nevada beat Tech at home and lost by six at Ruston.

“We have to play good post defense,” said Nevada coach Kim Gervasoni, referring to Shanavia Dowdell and JoKierra Sneed, who average 12 and 15 points a game, respectively. “The bulk of their scoring comes from the inside. We have to pressure the guards so they can’t see the post very well.

“I don’t like where we are right now offensively. We aren’t shooting a good percentage. We haven’t scored a lot of points. We’re getting good shots, but we have to do a better job of hitting those shots.”

Despite a season-high four straight losses to end the season, Criner said the morale of the Pack players is good.

“I definitely think we can bounce back,” Criner said. “We’re definitely disappointed with our last four games, but not so much with the Tech game, but the other three. We’re just trying to focus and stay positive.”

Tech is a young team that has continued to get better throughout the season, but coach Chris Long knows his young team has its hands full today.

“The first thing we have to do is take care of the ball,” Long said. “They have the ability to create turnovers and they hurt us on the offensive boards the last time. If you look at turnovers and offensive rebounding it’s surprising we shot such a high percentage.

“(Dellena) Criner is a special player. She has the ability to be real special. She has tremendous body control. Other than us, they are the most athletic team in the conference.”

But, Tech counters with Sneed and Dowdell, who are arguably the most potent 1-2 punch up front. Sneed is the only player in the conference to average a double-double.

“She’s very good,” Long said of Sneed. “She is so consistent. She has 18 double-doubles out of 29 games. That’s getting it done.”

No doubt Sneed and Dowdell will see plenty of Sabrina Keys, Cherlanda Franklin, Marianne Lombardi and Bre’Anna Heny. If Nevada can hold its own inside, the Pack will be in good shape.

Nevada is at its best in an open-court style of game; when its defense is forcing turnovers.

“Everybody knows we’re going to pressure and play full-court defense,” Gervasoni said. “We have to create some offense with our defense. At Tech, we did that pretty well.”

Nevada’s defense, led by Criner and Franklin, both of whom made the all-WAC defensive team, gives up 64 points a game which is third in the conference.

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

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

11 a.m. Louisiana Tech vs. Nevada

1:30 p.m. Fresno State vs. Idaho-SJSU winner

5 p.m. New Mexico State vs. Hawaii

7:30 p.m. Boise State vs. Utah State