NEVADA WOLF PACK (9-8, 3-1 WAC) vs. LOUISIANA TECH LADY TECHSTERS (8-9, 3-1 WAC)
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007 - 5 p.m. (PST) - Thomas Assembly Center - Ruston, La.
TV/RADIO: www.wac.tv / none
SERIES HISTORY: Louisiana Tech leads 12-0
LAST MEETING: Louisiana Tech won, 69-60, in last year’s WAC Tournament semifinals.
ABOUT THIS GAME
Nevada hits the road for a single game as it travels to Ruston, La., to face Louisiana Tech. The Wolf Pack is vying for not just its first-ever win at the Thomas Assembly Center, but its first-ever win against the Lady Techsters.
The Wolf Pack has won two WAC games in a row following last week’s wins over Hawai`i and San Jose State at home. Nevada is tied with Louisiana Tech and two other schools for second place in the WAC at 3-1. After this game, Nevada will have just five more road games this season before the WAC Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M.
Louisiana Tech won the last meeting with Nevada, a 69-60 game in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Reno last season. Dellena Criner scored 15 points for the Wolf Pack while Brandi Fitzgerald added 14 in the loss. The nine-point loss represents the closest game in the 12-game history between the schools.
ABOUT LOUISIANA TECH
The Lady Techsters are 8-9 on the season after playing a rigorous non-conference schedule. Louisiana Tech is off to a 3-1 start in WAC play but the one loss was a historic one. WAC-leading Boise State knocked off Louisiana Tech in Ruston last week, marking the school’s first home conference loss since 1992, a stretch that spanned 114 games over 15 seasons.
Louisiana Tech returned eight letterwinners and three starters from last year’s team that went 26-5 and made another trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Techsters were an overwhleming choice by both the media and the coaches to win the WAC title again this year in the league’s preseason polls.
The Lady Techsters are led by seniors Shan Moore and Ty Moore, a guard and forward, respectively, who were both named to the Preseason All-WAC first team. Ty Moore leads Louisiana Tech with 12.6 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per contest. Shan Moore is scoring 11.5 points per game.
Louisiana Tech is coached by Chris Long, who is 34-14 in his second year overall.
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 Hawai`i on Jan. 11 and San Jose State on Jan. 13. The Wolf Pack won both games and extended its home winning streak to four and extended its best-ever start to WAC play to 3-1.
Against San Jose State, Nevada placed three players in double figures in the 74-47 victory with Dellena Criner leading the charge with 18 points. Jessica Preslar had her first double-double since her sophomore season with 12 points and 11 boards and Brandi Fitzgerald scored 11 for the Pack. The crowd of 1,714 was the 13th-largest crowd in Nevada women’s history.
Nevada led 7-6 with 15:30 to play in the first half before a Preslar free throw sparked a 16-3 run over the next eight minutes. San Jose State cut the deficit to seven, 24-17, with 5:20 to go before halftime but the Pack reeled off a 15-2 run going into the break to take a 39-19 lead.
Nevada shot 44.3 percent from the field and held San Jose State to just 29.3 percent shooting. The Wolf Pack recorded 11 steals and outrebounded the Spartans 48-34.
Nevada senior Traci Graham continued her movement up Nevada’s career charts. Her eight points in the game gave her 940 in her career as she moved into ninth place all-time, one point ahead of Shawna Franceschini (1994-98). Graham recorded two assists in the game and has 234 in her career and she is now in fifth place alone ahead of Noelle Fable (1994-98). And she buried two 3-pointers, giving her 104 in her career and moving her into fifth place alone ahead of Virginia Green (1988-92).
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.
Nevada is averaging 13.24 steals per contest and is ranked eighth in the country. The Wolf Pack has three players ranked in the top nine in the WAC in steals per game, led by sophomore guard Dellena Criner who leads the WAC and is 31st in the country and 2.9 steals per game. Guard Brandi Fitzgerald and Traci Graham are tied for fifth in the WAC at 2.29 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-4.76.
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 106 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 105 out of a possible 106 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.
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 five starts for Nevada. She’s averaging nearly 20 minutes of playing time with 5.1 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game. She established herself as one of the best rebounders on the team and an effective scorer (44 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.
MOVING ON UP
Both Graham and Preslar can make some headway on Nevada’s career record books during WAC play.
Graham is already tops all-time in steals and between the two of them, they are in the top 10 in seven career statistical categories. Sophomroe Dellena Criner is ranked in an eighth category career free throw percentange. The rankings can be found below.
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.
Senior forward Jessica Preslar recorded her first double-double of the season with a 12-point, 11-rebound effort against San Jose State on Jan. 13.
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. But Franklin injured her knee a bone bruise in practice in December and has not played since. 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.