Wolf Pack women continue record start | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack women continue record start

Wolf Pack women continue record start

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – For the second time in as many games, Nevada used a fast start to overwhelm an opponent.

On Friday, the Wolf Pack women scored 13 of the game’s first 17 points en route to an 84-63 win over in-state rival UNLV.

On Sunday, Nevada got off to an even quicker start, scoring 20 of the game’s first 22 points and converting 20 turnovers into 22 points en route to a 66-44 win over the University of San Francisco before a crowd of 700 at Lawlor Events Center.

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Nevada, by virtue of a season-best four-game winning streak, improved to 9-3 in non-conference play, matching the starts of Anne Hope’s 1985-86 squad and the 1999-2000 team of Ada Gee. The victory was coach Kim Gervasoni’s 50th in her career.

The 44 points USF scored were the least that Nevada has allowed all season.

“They are a high-scoring team,” Gervasoni said. “They had been averaging 73 points a game which is high for women. I was concerned with that. We did a good job defending on screen and their dribble penetration.”

And Nevada locked down the Dons’ leading scorer Dominique Carter, who was held to nine points, 12 below her season average. Gervasoni lauded the play of Brandi Fitzgerald and Jennifer Gross, who had the task of slowing down Carter.

It was the quick start that made the difference in this game just as it did against UNLV. Neither team could dig itself out of the hole.

“It’s not surprising,” said guard Mikail Price, who contributed 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. “Coach told us we needed to come out with the same intensity that we had against UNLV. We’re getting better every game, every possession.”

“USF is a good team,” Cherlanda Franklin said. “They were not going to let up, which means we couldn’t let up. We played our butts off and got the win.”

Nevada, thanks to a 3-point field goal by Dellena Criner (18 points, 6 rebounds), opened the game with a 13-0 run. Fitzgerald helped out with a jump shot from the baseline and one in the paint in that initial surge.

USF’s Necolia Simmons (12 points, 12 rebounds) stopped the bleeding with a layup, but Price hit a pull-up jump shot, Criner converted a USF turnover into a 3-pointer and Bre’Anna Henry scored on a layup to make it 20-2.

“She is so valuable to us,” Gervasoni said of Henry.

USF coach Tanya Haave credited Nevada’s defense with her team’s slow start.

“We never really responded to their defensive pressure,” said Haave, whose team went 2 for its first 20 from the floor. “We had decent shots (at times), but couldn’t get them to fall.

“We had been shooting well, but we’d been at home. One of my worries was coming to a bigger arena. We hadn’t played on the road since Dec. 2.”

The teams played on near-even terms the final nine-plus minutes of the half, as Nevada held a 36-17 lead.

Nevada shot 43.8 percent (14-of-32) from the floor in the first half while holding the Dons, who entered Sunday’s game with Nevada on a six-game win streak, to just 23.1 percent (6-of-26) shooting in the first half.

Gervasoni said she wasn’t concerned that Nevada slowed down a little bit offensively in the latter part of the first half.

“We’re more experienced this season and we’ve really been working on our execution offensively,” Gervasoni said. “We have our defense in place. Our turnovers are down and our shot selection is much better.

“We were still getting good shots and we were getting stops at the other end. I thought it was a pretty complete half.”

The teams traded baskets much of the second half, as Nevada outscored USF 30-27 in the final 20 minutes.

Criner engineered a 9-4 spurt with a 3-pointer and layup to boost Nevada’s lead to 51-28 with 11:21 remaining. Those were her last points of the game, but she had already done enough damage. She was a source of USF’s defensive problems.

“She played well,” Haave said. “She is their leader. She is a triple-threat player. If you come up on her, she can drive by you. If you play off her, she will shoot the 3-pointer. That’s why she is so hard to guard.”

Criner has now reached double-digits in scoring 10 times this season, tops on the Nevada squad.

The only thing that kept Nevada from making this a 30-point game or more was the play of Simmons, who went 5-of-11 from the floor and gave Nevada problems throughout the game.

Simmons scored eight of her 12 in the final 20 minutes.

NOTES: Nevada shot a respectable 43.8 percent from the floor overall compared to 32.2 for USF … Freshman Shavon Moore reached double figures for the fourth consecutive game with a 12-point, four-rebound performance … Franklin tied a career-high with 10 rebounds. She also blocked two shots and recorded a steal … Nevada had 44 points in the paint, 12 of those coming from 14 offensive rebounds… Haave was impressed with Nevada, and said the Pack’s team is probably better than the Oregon State team the Dons beat earlier this season.

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