Women's Basketball Heads to WAC Tourney on Two-Game Streak

Senior Kayla Williams needs seven more blocks to tie the program's leader

March 6, 2012

RENO, Nev. -

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The University of Nevada women’s basketball team (7-22, 3-11 WAC) will look to ride the momentum of two straight home wins into the Western Athletic Conference tournament’s quarterfinal game against Utah State (20-8, 11-3 WAC) Wednesday 2:30 p.m. at the Orleans Arena.

This will mark the second time the schools have met in a conference tournament game. Nevada defeated Utah State 61-60 in the 2007 WAC tournament in Las Cruces, N.M. Utah State leads the overall series 9-8. The Aggies defeated the Wolf Pack in both meetings this season, handing Nevada a 91-69 loss in Logan and a 84-72 decision in Reno.

Nevada is just 7-11 all-time at the WAC Tournament.  The Pack was eliminated in the first round of its first four trips to the tournament from 2000-04.  The Wolf Pack recorded its first WAC Tournament win March 8, 2005 under then-head coach Kim Gervasoni when it defeated the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine 65-61.  The win was followed by a 64-54 loss to Rice to eliminate Nevada from the tournament.  Since then, Nevada is 6-6.  The most points the Wolf Pack has ever scored in a tournament game was 91 when it defeated LA Tech 91-88 March 12, 2009.  The fewest points Nevada has ever scored was in a 45-41 loss to Hawai’i March 5, 2002.  The Pack’s greatest margin of victory came in a 76-61 (15 points) win over San Jose State March 7, 2006, while its greatest margin of defeat came in an 82-56 (26 points) decision against LA Tech March 12, 2008.  Four times Nevada has been eliminated from tournament play by LA Tech. Nevada defeated Idaho in the first round of last year’s tournament 75-61 before falling to Louisiana Tech 66-59.

The University of Nevada women’s basketball team ended the regular season with a 76-72 Senior Day win over Louisiana Tech last Saturday afternoon at Lawlor Events Center.

Nevada rode the emotions of their four starting seniors early on, jumping out to a 13-4 lead. Louisiana Tech closed the gap on a layup by Jasmine Bendolph at the 12:22 mark to bring the score to 16-10. Nevada responded by hitting several shots from downtown to extend their lead to 12. The Wolf Pack knocked down 4-9 of its shots from beyond the arc in the first half while the Lady Techsters went 2-5. Louisiana Tech cut Nevada’s lead to six on a layup by Tavasha Anderson. Chanelle Brennan’s 10 points led Nevada to a 40-31 lead over Louisiana Tech at halftime.

Louisiana Tech looked determined to get back in the game out of the break. The Lady Techsters got within three points of the Pack on a basket by Shantale Brambale-Donaldson at the 18:06 mark. Nevada exchanged baskets with Louisiana Tech over the next several minutes to maintain a small lead. The Lady Techsters tied the game at 61-61 on two free throws from Bramble-Donaldson.  Nevada reclaimed the lead on a free throw and jump shot by Kayla Williams. A made three point shot by Louisisana Tech’s Whitney Jones tied the game at 66-66 with 4:09 left to go. Senior Amanda Johnson’s steal and eighth assist on a Kevorken layup put Nevada up 69-66.

With eight assists in the game Johnson passed Dellena Criner (2005-2009) for third best on the program’s career list. A layup by Jelena Vucinic at the 1:25 mark put Louisiana Tech up 70-69. Senior Amanda Johnson came up big late, hitting a jump shot with 57 seconds to go. The Pack made a strong defensive stand on the Lady Techsters next possession that led to a rebound, putting Kate Kevorken on the line where she made the first and missed the second.  Nevada’s missed free throws down the stretch allowed Louisiana Tech to have a chance to tie the game as they were down 75-72 with seven seconds left. The Lady Techsters inbounded a full court pass that was picked off by Kate Kevorken to seal a 76-72 win.

After some early season struggles, Nevada has found its stride in the month of March by winning two consecutive games. The Pack opened up the month defeating New Mexico State 68-56 and followed that performance with a win against Louisiana Tech. The two consecutive wins is the first time the team has won back to back games this season. The two wins also secured the seventh seed for Nevada in the WAC tournament where they will face the second seed Utah State. The wins combined with two late New Mexico State losses gave Nevada the tie-breaker over the Aggies.

The Louisiana Tech regular season finale marked the last game at Lawlor for seniors Kayla Williams, Kate Kevorken, Amanda Johnson and Christina Gough. The senior class came up big for Nevada in the 76-72 win. Kayla Williams led all scorers with 20 points, adding five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Kate Kevorken just missed her fifth career double-double, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds. Amanda Johnson handed out a career best tying eight assists.

Although Nevada is 7-22 on the year, 16 of the games have been decided by 10 points or less. The Pack is 5-11 in those games, defeating LA Tech in the regular season finale 76-72 (4), Idaho in the first meeting this season 76-70 (6), CSU Bakersfield 85-76 (9), Oregon 76-74 (2) and Butler 71-69 (2) in the Nugget Classic. Nevada is 3-6 in games decided by 5 points or less, losing to Hawai`i in the season rematch 72-68 (4).

Senior captain Kate Kevorken has been a constant presence for Nevada on the offensive end this
season. The forward has led Nevada in scoring in 15 of its 29 games, leading the team with 19 points in the win over New Mexico State. Kevorken recorded her fourth double-double in the game, adding 11 rebounds to her stat total. Kevorken’s 15.9 ppg average is good for third best in the WAC. Her 62 made three-pointers puts Kevorken in second place in the WAC, averaging 2.14 made 3fg per game.

Nevada has battled teams late in games this season. Three times this year the game has gone into overtime. Nevada is 0-3 in its overtime games this year, falling to Idaho 87-86, Pacific 75-70 and Long Beach State 61-58. As a program Nevada has played in 26 overtime games, going 8-18 (.31). Nevada’s last overtime win occurred in the WAC tournament on March 12, 2009 against LA Tech 91-88. The most overtime games the Pack has had previously in a season was two (1997-1998).

Forward Kayla Williams is making her way up to the top of Nevada’s career blocks list. The senior has swatted away 114 shots during her four years with the team, which is good for second best in the  program with Chris Starr (1982-86). Williams needs seven more to tie Katie Golomb (1998-2002) for the program’s lead. Williams also sits in third in the single-season block category with 44 blocks. She needs five more to tie second place Jelena Zrnic (1996-1997).

Senior Amanda Johnson is quickly climbing Nevada’s career assists list with a total of 380. The guard passed Dellena Criner for third best on the program’s career list with eight assists in the LA Tech Win. The senior needs five more to tie Laura Ingham (2001-03) for second best. Johnson’s 123 assists this season is good for second best in the conference. Johnson is averaging 4.2 assists per game.



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