Nevada Ends Losing Streak 49-44 Over Utah State
A gritty performance from the University of Nevada women's basketball team led to a 49-44 Mountain West victory over visiting Utah State Wednesday night, snapping an eight-game losing streak.
A win not only snaps the losing streak, but brings head coach Jane Albright one more victory closer to 500 for her career as this was her 494th career win. Senior Mimi Mungedi was the only Wolf Pack (7-15, 3-8 MW) player to score in double figures, posting her 10th career double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. With four blocked shots in the game, Mungedi has tied the single-season school record (58), a record in which she herself set last year.
The game got off to a rather slow start as it favored the Aggies (6-18, 3-9 MW), 9-5, at the first media timeout with 13:53 remaining in the first half. An offensive put back in the paint by freshman Teige Zeller tied it at 10-10 and sparked a 9-0 run by the Pack, to take a 17-10 lead. During that stretch, Utah State went 0-of-8 from the floor.
With under four to play in the half, USU was threatening and a layup from Franny Vaaulu tied the game at 20-20, part of an 8-0 Aggie run. After a pair of free throws by the game's leading scorer, Funda Nakkasoglu, the Pack found itself trailing by two with under a minute to go. Following a block and defensive rebound by Zeller, Nevada transitioned to the other end of the floor, got the ball back into the hands of Zeller, who hit a pull-up jumper to tie the game at 24-24. Senior Emily Burns' last second three-pointer attempt as time expired in the period was no good, sending both teams into the locker room tied.
Scoring was at a premium in the second half as well. Utah State's Julianne Anchling hit a shot a minute and a half into the start of the second half and the Aggies did not score again for another six minutes. USU totaled five points in the half up until the clock read 5:14 to play.
Leading by five with 12:38 remaining, Nevada turned it up a notch, playing solid defense and going on a 9-0 run. An offensive put back by senior Aja Johnson stretched the Wolf Pack lead out to double figures for the first time in the game. Next offensive possession for Nevada, Mungedi was fouled on a made layup and completed the three-point play at the foul line, adding to the run and giving the Pack its largest lead of the game at 14 points.
A minute and a half later, Vaaulu's make from beyond the arc halted her team's scoring drought and started a comeback bid. Utah State scored 10 unanswered points to cut its deficit to 43-39 with just over two minutes to play. Two clutch free throws from junior Kelsey Kaelin snapped a scoring drought of its own for Nevada, extending the lead to six.
With a minute and a half on the clock, USU's Anchling drained a long range three to cut the deficit in half. She was then sent to the free throw line with 15 seconds left after drawing a foul and hit both of her foul shots, making it 45-44 Nevada.
On the ensuing inbound, Kaelin was fouled and sunk both of her free throws at the other end of the floor to put the Pack ahead by three with 13 seconds remaining. A missed three-pointer by Nakkasoglu with seven seconds left all but sealed the win for Nevada.
Behind Mungedi, the next highest scorer for the Pack was Kaelin, who finished with seven points after going 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Both Zeller and sophomore Ashlee Jones recorded new career-highs in rebounds as Zeller pulled down eight and Jones grabbed six boards.
Utah State, the league's leading free throw shooting team, shot just 50 percent (8-of-16) from the charity stripe.
Nevada will hit the road for a two-game road swing beginning this Saturday, Feb. 14 with a trip to Albuquerque, N.M. to face the Lobos of New Mexico at 1 p.m. PT.