by Nicole Skow
The Mountain West Conference tournament is only a week away, but it appears that the Nevada women’s basketball team might be back on the right track. Despite losing to San Jose State 72-81, the Wolf Pack destroyed Air Force by over 30 points en route to a 74-42 shellacking on Feb. 25.
“It feels good (to get a win),” said Nevada point guard Ashlee Jones. “We were all playing together and everybody had fun tonight. That’s how we’re supposed to win.”
Execution wasn’t much of an issue against the Falcons. During the first half Nevada shot 40 percent to San José’s 37 percent. After intermission is when the Wolf Pack really took off. It held the Spartans to only six field goals on 29 percent field goal percentage. In comparison, Nevada shot 54 percent from the field, going 14-of-26.
Despite the Wolf Pack having 18 turnovers against Air Force, its 19 assists to make up for those mistakes. Nevada outrebounded the Falcons 52 to 29. Nevada center Mimi Mungedi led all players with 10 rebounds, to no surprise. The standout performance came in the form of forward Julia Shelbourn. She had a career-high 10 points as she came off of the bench for Mungedi.
“Julia in the last week and a half has really come into her own and played like we know she can play,” said Nevada head coach Jane Albright. “She’s extended her game and hit some jumpers. She got really fouled on the inside or else she would have had 14 points and gotten to the free throw line. I’m really proud of her. She works as hard as any kid in our program and you just love to see her have a game like this.”
Shelbourn wasn’t the only one who had a solid game. With starting point guard Kelsey Kaelin out again due to an ankle injury, Jones started at point guard. She logged 28 minutes and ended with 9 points on 3-for-4 shooting.
“Ashlee’s done great,” Shelbourn said. “She’s picked up the point guard spot real easily and she’s doing it really effectively. She’s still getting her shots and she’s running her offense great. It’s awesome to see her step in and dominate that role.”
However, the Wolf Pack couldn’t carry the momentum over into its game against the Spartans the following Saturday. Nevada had a better shooting percentage than San Jose — 46 to 39 percent, — but the Spartans made buckets when it counted. The biggest disparity came at the free-throw line. San José reached the charity stripe
three times as much as Nevada. The Spartans stepped up to the stripe 24 times, making 17 total, while Nevada only stepped up eight times, sinking only four.
Going forward, the Pack has to continue playing its inside-out game. When it does that, the Wolf Pack gets more rebounds which leads to more shot opportunities. Air Force only had 10 points in the paint while Nevada put up an outstanding 44.
“When we get that insideout game we have a lot more flow, and we’re able to get a lot more rebounds,” Shelbourn said. “Our guards can set up their shot. They’re not rushing, not trying to shoot over someone. When we can get that inside-out game that’s where we’re our best.”
In its last two games, Nevada will take on Colorado State and San Diego State. The Pack will travel to Fort Collins, Colorado to take on the Rams who have won four straight games. Then the Wolf Pack will return home for its final game of the season to take on the Aztecs who fell short to Boise State a week earlier. The Pack will honor five seniors as it also attempts to get Albright closer to 500 wins.
Nicole Skow can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.