NEVADA WOLF PACK (8-8, 2-1 WAC) vs. SAN JOSE ST. SPARTANS (1-16, 0-3 WAC)
Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007 - 2 p.m. (PST) - Lawlor Events Center - Reno, Nev.
TV/RADIO: www.wac.tv / none
SERIES HISTORY: San Jose State leads 19-9
LAST MEETING: Nevada won the last meeting, 76-61, in the WAC Tournament last season.
ABOUT THIS GAME
Nevada will be vying for its fourth-straight home victory on Saturday as it plays host to San Jose State at Lawlor Events Center. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
Nevada won its WAC home opener on Thursday with a 69-59 defeat of Hawai`i and that victory was the Wolf Pack’s third straight at Lawlor. The other victories in the streak were against UC Irvine (Dec. 17) and Portland State (Dec. 28).
Nevada won the last meeting with San Jose State, a 76-61 victory in the first round of the 2005-06 WAC Tournament last season in Reno. That win marked Nevada’s first victory over San Jose State since the 2000-01 season and ended an 11-game losing streak to the Spartans.
Due to programming conflicts, the game will not be broadcast on radio as previously scheduled. Livestats will be available on www.nevadawolfpack.com
ABOUT SAN JOSE STATE
The Spartans have gotten off to a rough start this season and are 1-16 overall with the lone victory coming against Pacific. San Jose State is 0-3 in Western Athletic Conference play with losses to Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and Fresno State. San Jose State was picked sixth by both the coaches and media in the WAC preseason polls.
San Jose State is led by guard Natalie White, who is averaging 12.6 points per game overall and 10.7 in conference play. Forward Brittany Powell, a freshman, is putting up 10.1 points per game and 12.0 in WAC play. The Spartans are guided by interim head coach Derrick Allen as head coach Janice Richard is taking a medical leave of absence as she battles breast cancer.
LAST TIME OUT
It was home sweet home as Nevada returned to Lawlor Events Center for the first time since Dec. 28 when it played host to Hawaii on Thursday. Senior guard Traci Graham buried four 3-pointers and led three Nevada players in double figures as the Wolf Pack took a 69-59 victory over the Rainbow Wahine.
Sophomore Brandi Fitzgerald scored 13 points while Dellena Criner added 12 for Nevada, which improved to 8-8 overall and 2-1 in Western Athletic Conference play. Hawaii fell to 6-9 and 0-3 in the WAC.
Nevada scored the first 11 points of the game and led by as many as 13 points in the first half before the Rainbow Wahine battled back. Hawaii took their only lead of the game, 20-19, on a 3-pointer by Janevia Taylor with 7:15 left in the first half. Nevada answered that with a 14-2 run and cruised into halftime leading 37-31.
The Wolf Pack was outrebounded by the taller Wahine 44-28 but went to the free throw line 25 times, hitting 20 of those attempts. Hawaii was just 6-of-10 from the stripe.
Hawaii was led by Tanya Smith’s double-double of 25 points and 16 rebounds, both game-highs. Nevada freshman Marianne Lombardi started her third consecutive game and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds for Nevada.
Two local radio stations will combine to air 20 Nevada women’s basketball games during the regular season. The broadcast schedule started with Nevada’s own John Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic at Lawlor Events Center during the first week in December.
Nine of the games will be carried live by ESPN Radio 630 AM, the flagship station for Wolf Pack athletics. The remaining 11 games will be carried live on KXTO 1550 AM. Broadcasts will begin 15 minutes prior to top-off for each game. In addition, all of the team’s games in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament will be broadcast.
Broadcasting duties will rotate among members of the Wolf Pack Sports Network crew, which includes the “Voice of the Wolf Pack” Dan Gustin, Don Marchand and Ben Deach. Kurt Esser will occasionally serve as a color commentator during the broadcast from games at Lawlor Events Center.
MASTERING THE ART OF THIEVERY
The most important statistic other than the win/loss column for the Nevada Wolf Pack is steals. The program prides itself on its defensive pressure and the statistics are impressive thus far this season.
Through 16 games, Nevada is averaging 13.4 steals per contest and is ranked seventh in the country. The Wolf Pack has three players ranked in the top eight in the WAC in steals per game, led by sophomore guard Dellena Criner, who leads the conference and is in the top 40 in the nation with 2.8 steals per game.
The Pack’s proficiency in recording steals and forcing turnovers has the team ranked tops in the WAC in turnover margin per game at plus 5.33
Earlier this year, Nevada tied a school record with 22 steals against Sacramento State, a game in which the Pack forced 37 turnovers by the Hornets.
NEVADA PICKED THIRD
Nevada was picked this in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll in October. In addition, Nevada was pegged for fourth in the media poll. Sophomore Brandi Fitzgerald was picked by the coaches and the media as a preseason first-team All-WAC member, the first such time a Nevada player has ever received that honor since the school joined the conference prior to the 2000-01 season.
GRAHAM SOLIDIFYING HER LEGACY
Senior Traci Graham will likely finish her career as one of the top players in Wolf Pack history. The gritty guard from Reno’s McQueen High School has been a model of consistency during her career as she has never missed a game a stretch of 105 straight.
On Dec. 8 at Sacramento State, Graham had a five-steal effort, which vaulted her past Carissa Meyer and Angie Heer into first place on Nevada’s all-time steals chart. Graham also ranks in the top 10 on three other Nevada career charts: scoring, assists and 3-pointers (the charts can be found on page 4 of this release). She entered the top 10 of the scoring chart with a career-high 23-point effort in Nevada’s 69-68 nail-biting victory over UC Irvine on Dec. 17.
PRESLAR ONE OFF THE PACE
Senior forward Jessica Preslar came to Nevada the same year as Graham and is just one behind her teammate on Nevada’s career games-played list. Preslar has missed just one game in her career, having played in 104 out of a possible 105 contests.
Each of the two seniors has the opportunity to break the school record for games played in a career before their careers end this season. That mark is held by Kate Smith (1999-2003), who played in 115 games.
MOVING ON UP
Both Graham and Preslar can make some headway on Nevada’s career record books during the early part of WAC play.
Graham, who already tops all-time in steals, is one 3-pointer away from moving into fifth place alone on Nevada’s all-time charts as she enters the weekend tied with Virginia Green (1988-92) at 102 career treys. She is also tied inc areer assists with Noelle Fable (1994-98) at 232. Graham is 10th all-time in scoring and trails Shawna Franceschini (1994-98) by five points for ninth all-time.
Preslar enters this weekend eighth all-time in rebounding and needs 13 to tie April Bankston (2001-05) for seventh. Preslar is also one steal shy of taking seventh place away from Amber Young (2001-05).
CRINER BREAKING OUT
After a strong freshman campaign, sophomore guard Dellena Criner got off to a blistering start to the 2006-07 season and has continued that high level of play into the Western Athletic Conference season. Criner leads the team in scoring, steals, assists and minutes played so far this year. She set a career-high of 24 points in a win at San Diego State and then broke it with a 25-point effort against Auburn on Dec. 1. A 3-pointer at the buzzer against Boise State on Jan. 8 was waved off and would have given Criner a career high of 27, not to mention send that game into overtime.
Criner’s scoring has been remarkably efficient as she is hitting 48 percent from the field. She also has a free-throw percentage of .735 and ranks among Nevada’s career leaders in that category. Overall, Criner is averaging 14.3 points per game, up from 7.0 as a freshman last season.
FRESHMEN STEPPING UP
Nevada’s two true freshmen have begun to make an impact this season as the Wolf Pack begins play in the Western Athletic Conference.
Forward Marianne Lombardi (Yakima, Wash.) has played in every game and made four starts for Nevada. She’s averaging nearly 20 minutes of playing time with 4.9 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. She established herself as one of the best rebounders on the team and an effective scorer (41 percent from the field).
Marissa Hammond (Pendleton, Ore.) got off to a slow start but has been playing well as of late. The 6-foot-3 forward averaged nearly nine points per game in Nevada’s final four non-conference games, including a career-best 10 points at UNLV.
BEST START IN 25 YEARS
Nevada jumped out to a 3-0 start this season, matching the school’s best-known start. After beating Cal Poly at home to open the year, the Wolf Pack knocked off San Diego State on the road before notching a 75-58 victory over Idaho State. That matched the 3-0 start by the 1981-82 team. Complete historical records only go back to 1979.
The Wolf Pack did not have to wait long to get its first double-double of the season as junior forward Cherlanda Franklin pulled it off in the season opener. Franklin scored 10 points and pulled down a career-best 10 rebounds for her first-ever double-double. Franklin narrowly missed her second-straight double-double against San Diego State as she fell one rebound short. Last season, Nevada had just one double-double a 17-point, 11-rebound effort by Brandi Fitzgerald against San Jose State.
Nevada is waiting for the services of forward Cherlanda Franklin. The athletic junior started the first five games of the season and was off to a hot start with 9.8 points per game and a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game. After missing four games for personal reasons, Franklin injured her knee a bone bruise in practice prior to the Wolf Pack’s Dec. 17 game against UC Irvine. It is hoped that Franklin can return during the early part of Western Athletic Conference play, though no official timetable has been set.
KEYS TO REDSHIRT
Nevada was hoping to get the services of senior forward Sabrina Keys around the start of Western Athletic Conference play. But the Suisin, Calif., native will redshirt this season due to hamstring tendinitis, a condition related to her rehabilitation from a knee injury suffered last season. The 6-foot-2 forward, who started her collegiate career at Purdue, played in 16 games last year for Nevada, starting 8. Keys will be a fifth-year senior next season for the Wolf Pack.
Nevada’s 78-68 victory over Idaho on Jan. 6 marked an important moment in the Kim Geravsoni era it was the first time Nevada won the first game of the Western Athletic Conference season since the coach took over prior to the 2003-04 season. This is Nevada’s seventh season in the WAC and it marked just the second time that the Wolf Pack won a conference opener and the first time that Nevada won its first road conference game.
Nevada won its 2005-06 season debut on Nov. 11 with a 76-62 victory over Cal Poly at Lawlor Events Center. With the win, Nevada evened its record in season openers to 14-14 since 1979-80 and coach Kim Gervasoni is now 2-2 in season openers at Nevada.
Nevada has already signed four West Coast prep stars who will join the team next season. On Nov. 8, the first day of the early signing period, Nevada received signed National Letters of Intent from: Jennifer Gross, a 6-foot guard from Berkeley (Calif.) High School; Shavon Moore, a 6-foot-2 forward from J.W. North High School in Riverside, Calif.; Johnna Ward, a 5-foot-8 guard from Spring Creek (Nev.) High School; and Nicole Williams, a 5-foot-9 guard from Laguna Creek High School in Sacramento, Calif. Nevada has one more available scholarship to give for the 2007-08 season.
Senior guard Traci Graham made the all-tournament team in both of the events that Nevada played in this season.
Graham was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Coors Classic hosted by Colorado. In two games, Graham scored 22 points and had five assists. She followed that up with a combined 30 points and four steals during Nevada’s own John Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic. She was joined on the Nugget team by teammate Dellena Criner, who had 44 points, six assists and seven steals in the two games.