Senior Nyasha LeSure established a new career-high of 29 points as the Nevada women’s basketball team held on in a thriller to down Wyoming, 68-65, Wednesday night. It marks career win No. 499 for head coach Jane Albright.
LeSure’s 29 points are the most by a Wolf Pack (3-14, 2-4 MW) player since Tahnee Robinson scored 35 against Idaho in the WAC Tournament in 2011. She connected on 57 percent (12-of-21) of her shots, grabbed eight rebounds and added three assists. In two games against Wyoming this season, LeSure has totaled 53 points.
The story of the game for the Cowgirls (10-7, 3-4 MW) was their 54.2 percent (13-of-24) success rate from the free throw line. Wyoming, the Mountain West’s second-best free throw shooting team going into the game, missed important foul shots down the stretch, hitting just 5-of-12 in the fourth quarter.
Nevada took a six-point lead into halftime, just its second time leading at the break this season. Despite being outscored in the third quarter the Pack was able to obtain a nine-point lead, its largest of the game, early in the period. A stretch of cold offense from there allowed Wyoming to get back in the game, tying it at 44 on a three-pointer by Marta Gomez with 4:23 left in the period. Battling back and not relinquishing the lead, Nevada took a five-point lead into the final quarter.
A back-and-forth, entertaining final quarter ensued. The Cowgirls fought and clawed, coming within one point of the Pack multiple times throughout the period. Nevada did not falter and maintained its lead until 1:22 remained when Hailey Ligocki’s layup gave Wyoming its first lead since the first quarter. On the next possession, senior Kelsey Kaelin’s short jumper gave the lead right back to the home team, 62-61.
As the clock ticked to under a minute, Wyoming’s leading scorer Marquelle Dent headed to the foul line with a chance to take the lead once more, but missed both shots. Now in a position to begin fouling, Kaelin took her place at the free throw line and hit both, giving Nevada a 64-61 advantage with 21 seconds left.
Dent took the ensuing inbound pass, hustled the length of the floor and converted a layup to bring it back to a one-point game. With 14 ticks on the clock and the Cowgirls pressing, Kaelin made a heads up play down the length of the floor and launched the inbound pass to a wide open LeSure, who gave Nevada some breathing room once again.
Even entering single digits on the clock, it wasn’t over yet. Dent again brought her team within one after stealing a pass attempt by the Pack and hitting the layup at the other end. Now with just two seconds to play and LeSure fouled, she went to the line and knocked in both free throws, sealing the win for Nevada.
Neither team shot well from beyond the arc, but finished pretty even overall in the 42 percent range. Nevada led for a majority of the game at almost 30 minutes. Behind LeSure, the second-highest Wolf Pack scorer was sophomore Teige Zeller, who finished with eight.
Nevada will travel down to Las Vegas this Saturday, Jan. 23 for a 3 p.m. contest at interstate rival UNLV. Saturday’s game will be the first of at least two meetings this season between the Wolf Pack and Lady Rebels for points in the Governor’s Series.