By Alexa Ard

Power forward Nyasha LeSure drives to the basket against Long Beach State. With starting forward Emily Burns sitting out with an injury, the scoring load has been placed more on other players like LeSure to make an impact. Juliana Bledsoe /Nevada Sagebrush

Power forward Nyasha LeSure drives to the basket against Long Beach State. With starting forward Emily Burns sitting out with an injury, the scoring load has been placed more on other players like LeSure to make an impact. Juliana Bledsoe /Nevada Sagebrush

Nevada has been able to win a couple games without one of its top rebounders and team captains, Emily Burns, but as it faces tougher teams, the Pack seems to be feeling her absence even more.

It’s been a little over two weeks since she’s been out due to a concussion on Nov. 21 at Cal Poly, where Nevada finished with a 82-57 loss. Against the lesser-known schools, such as Cal State East Bay and Wake Forest, the team has seen victories. However, when competing against the bigger schools like Idaho and Brigham Young University, they haven’t been able to pull out the win, suffering close losses. On Saturday, in front of a crowd of 597 in Huntsman Center, Nevada saw an even closer defeat to Utah. The final score was 61-57.

According to senior Danika Sharp, the team’s major downfall was rebounding.

“She’s our leading rebounder,” Sharp said. “We need her back so she can help us on the boards.”

Nevada was outrebounded by Utah 43-35, but the Pack’s low field goal percentage also contributed to the loss. They finished with 33.9 percent from the field ,compared to Utah’s 41.8 percent.

Sharp explained that she felt the reason for this was partially due to being on the road.

Sophomore Terilyn Moe also added that not having Burns on the court with them has had both a physical and mental effect on the team’s performance.

“She brings a lot of energy,” Moe said. “She talks very well, and she’s a good leader.”

However, temporarily losing players because of injury isn’t uncommon in sports. It just means other players have to step up.

Moe and junior Mimi Mungedi have consistently been putting numbers on the board for Nevada, and they continued to show up against Utah.

Moe led the team in scoring with 16 points. In the past three games, including this game against Utah, the underclassman has led in scoring. Against Wake Forest on Nov. 30, she tied for the most points with Sharp for

23 buckets.

“It’s more just letting the game come to me,” Moe said of how she’s been able to perform well after suffering an ACL injury last season. “At first I was very timid, but letting the game come to me as it is and just taking advantage of that (helped to get me over it).”

Mungedi earned a second career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday against the Utes.

Usually Burns, Sharp and senior Arielle Wideman are always in the starting lineup for the Wolf Pack. Burns recovering has left the other three spots to be constantly rotated and experimented with by Nevada head coach Jane Albright.  She said in a post game interview on Nov. 15, following the 91-61 victory over Long Beach State, that she feels they have seven players who could fill a role in the starting five.

The seven she listed were Burns, Sharp, Wideman, Moe, Mungedi, senior Amber Smith and sophomore Nyasha LeSure. However, she mixed things up against the Utes by having sophomore Julia Shelbourn start instead of Mungedi. The forward only saw 16 minutes of playing time, and Mungedi played for 26 minutes, performing strongly when she did get subbed into the game.

When Burns will return to play still seems to be up in the air. The team can only hope that she will be back by the time conference play starts on Jan. 1 versus San Jose State.

Until then, the team can only focus on the next game, which is against Grand Canyon. It will be free of charge because the Wolf Pack partnered with the Washoe County School District for a “When I Grow Up” field trip event. There are predicted to be hundreds of children in attendance.

Alexa Ard can be reached at aard@nevadasagebrush.com.