Somebody needs to talk to someone about getting Nevada head coach Jane Albright’s countdown to 500 wins poster taken down. Ever since it went up on Jan. 7, 2015, the team has succumbed to an eight-game losing streak
This past Saturday against San Jose State, it appeared the tide might have turned. The poster had moved over one section, and Nevada was in a prime position to win in overtime. The Wolf Pack came from behind to tie it up in regulation and led most of the five-minute overtime. At the two-minute mark, San Jose’s Ta’Rea Cunningan hit a wide-open three to put the team up for good.
Albright frowned at the 24 turnovers in the game, but she wasn’t upset with the way her team played Saturday afternoon.
“We gave everything we had,” Albright said. “This was a great effort game. We had two kids with a double-double, almost three. Mimi [Mungedi] was in beast mode.”
Mungedi had a monster game with 24 points, 29 rebounds and six blocks. She blocked most of her shots in the first half, but her presence proved to be a big threat in the second half and in overtime. San Jose quivered under the basket, fearing the 6-foot-8 center would block its shot. It freed up Nevada to play a tight man-to-man perimeter defense.
“I mean even in this game every time she got a block it gave us that extra boost of energy,” said Nevada guard Emily Burns. “Down the line we know she’s going to be able to do that. It’s going to help our defense tremendously knowing that if we get beat we know we have [Mungedi] there to block shots.”
After losing eight games in a row, the Wolf Pack’s confidence level is in the slums, according to Albright. The close losses and small errors have been especially disheartening to the squad. However, Albright sees an ultimatum with her team.
“We’ve really lost all of our confidence,” Albright said. “At this point it’s not about confidence. It’s about intensity, fight, desire and trying to get better and getting ready for the next games.”
Cameron, though, sees the losses as an opportunity for improvement.
“It’s a challenge like always,” Cameron said. “You can either take it and go down, or you can take it and rise to the occasion. We should take this and use it to fuel us coming back because we are good.”
Aside from shooting, the Wolf Pack’s biggest problem is turnovers. In its eight losses, the Pack averages 18 turnovers a game, a number any coach would frown at. Burns knows that the problem doesn’t lay with other elements of the game. Everything comes down to how the team is playing and what it does during the game. She realizes that the change has to come from within.
“It’s just us,” Burns said. “We gotta adjust ourselves. We’re getting better slowly, little bit by little bit. Soon it’s going to turn and we’re going to get our lucky streak coming back.”
The Pack will be home on Wednesday to take on Utah State, who is on a four-game losing skid. Nevada will then travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on the Lobos. New Mexico is coming off a come-from-behind victory against Utah State. The Pack will look to end its eight-game skid and give Albright two more wins.
Nicole Skow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Uribe_Eric.