Nevada women to host tournament |

Nevada women to host tournament

sierra nevada media group

The Wolf Pack women’s basketball team faces two proven opponents this weekend in the annual Nugget Classic at the Lawlor Events Center.

Nevada faces SEC powerhouse Auburn in the first game tonight at 7 p.m. Auburn and the University of California at Riverside then face each other on Saturday at 5 p.m., with the final game slated for Sunday at 3 p.m. between UC Riverside and the Wolf Pack.

Nevada fans should note this is the only collegiate basketball tournament – men or women – to be played in Reno this season.

After winning its first three games of the season last month, the Wolf Pack women’s basketball team then ran into a cold stone wall at the Coors Classic in Boulder, Colo., during the Thanksgiving vacation.

Nevada dropped two games to a pair of formidable Mountain West Conference foes in Wyoming and Colorado.

Auburn is untested so far this season despite its 5-2 record. The two losses came to quality teams, Xavier and Marquette at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. The Tigers won their final game at the tournament, 95-86, against Western Michigan.

For the Lady Pack to be successful, coach Kim Gervasoni’s crew needs to be focused from the opening tip-off. The Tigers have three players scoring in double figures this season. DeWanna Bonner lads Auburn with a 19-point per game average. Sherell Hobb follows with 13.9 points per game, and Tamela McCorvey had a 10.3 average.

Auburn has a talented lineup and bench. Except for one player, 10 players are scoring an average of at least five points per game.

Gervasoni has extensively used her bench this season, and the Wolf Pack likes to spread the scoring around.

Dellena Criner has paced Nevada with a 15-point per game scoring average, followed by former McQueen standout Traci Graham’s 11.2 points. Until the trip to Colorado, Jessica Preslar was also scoring in double digits, but her average has tailed off to nine points per game, the same amount for Cherlanda Franklin.

Preslar and Franklin have combined for 74 rebounds in five games.

After struggling it its first two games, UC Riverside has split its last four games, losing to UCLA by 10 points at home and dropping a five-point decision at Alaska-Anchorage.

UC Riverside did knock off Butler, 70-60, and Wisconsin at home, 52-50 on Tuesday. Junior forward Kemie Nkele, the Highlanders’ leading scorer with an 11.8-point per game average, sunk two free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining to hand Wisconsin its first loss of the season.

UC Riverside has one of the youngest teams in the country with four starters still in their teens.

The Highlanders and Nevada have faced each other three times before this weekend with the Wolf Pack winning two games.