By Alexa Ard
As far as standouts go, Nevada men’s basketball has Deonte Burton, but the women have been seeing sporadic highs from a different player in each of its past four games, including their exhibition game.
During last season, Danika Sharp and the team’s lone senior Chanelle Brennan were the usual leading scorers for the team. Yet this season is a completely different ball game for the players that make up the Wolf Pack.
It all started with the return of sophomore Terilyn Moe, also known as “T. Moe,” when she came back from an ACL injury from last season to score 18 points in 19 minutes of the exhibition game against San Francisco State on Nov. 5.
In its next win on Nov. 8, the team opened the regular season away at Utah Valley, where junior Mimi Mungedi led with 15 points. Junior Emily Burns notched the high in scoring and rebounding for the team with 16 points and 12 rebounds to dominate Long Beach State 91-61 on Friday.
“I think that’s what you’re going to see about our team is that every game we have a different leading scorer,” said Nevada head coach Jane Albright.
She attributed this observation to all of the hard work each player put in during the summer. She explained that all of her players, besides her two freshmen, Ashlee Jones and Iman Lathan, attended both sessions of summer school and offseason training. The freshmen were able to make it to the second summer session, though.
“Every single player on my team has improved tremendously, not just the starters, or not just the bench,” Albright said. “Every single person on our roster is much better than they were last year,” Albright said.
The head coach added that Mungedi even competed in a league in California during the summer to obtain a better understanding of those fundamentals that she struggled with.
In the final two games of last season, the six-foot-eight center notched 18 points and finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Pack’s final game of the 2012-2013 season.
This momentum has only continued in Nevada’s first few games of the season. A major part of Mungedi’s improvement is simply learning to keep the ball up when she’s in the post. She used to bring the ball down to her core or waist then try to go back up with it. This then led to many turnovers for Nevada, but now, she’s finally taking advantage of her height.
Because of the large lead that lasted throughout the entire game, each member on the team saw playing time and contributed except for junior Aja Johnson, who is out because of a hand injury, and junior Kayla Reeves, a Pack newcomer.
Besides these two players, every player on the Wolf Pack scored, including senior Markie Wilder, who has seen extremely limited minutes since joining the team last year. So when she scored a jumper with the and one, the crowd and her team went wild for her.
“This is a team that really loves each other and enjoys playing together,” Albright said.
However, it was an advantage to the Wolf Pack that the 49ers were missing players, and many members of the team did not possess the size or muscle that the teams of the Mountain West Conference possess. Yet, Albright, Burns and senior Arielle Wideman attributed the win to the Pack’s high energy and zone defense that was able to limit Long Beach to a 34.2 field goal percentage.
“I think one of the big things for this game was we came out in the first half strong, and it didn’t take us the entire first half to warm up like it normally does,” Burns said. “We came out, and we hit buckets and we played defense, and I think that really got us into it fast.”
Unfortunately, the team saw an 86-72 loss, its first of the season, on Sunday against the University of California, Irvine. There was some contribution from a few bench players in this game as well, such as Amber Smith, Julia Shelbourn and Nyasha LeSure.
Yet, the biggest contribution came from players in the starting five. Sharp led with 20 points and Mungedi was right behind with 17.
Nevada will use this week to regroup before it faces Cal Poly on the road this Friday. Burns expressed they won’t forget to use last season’s 8-23, 2-14 MW record as a lesson for what each member needs to do to contribute so the team as a whole can succeed.
“We want to prove something this year and by doing that we’re going to come out hard every single game and just show people we’re here,” Burns said.
Alexa Ard can be email@example.com.