The Wolf Pack is one and done.
Three days removed from beating the same San Diego State team at home 50-44, Nevada was rocked 70-48 by the Aztecs in the opening round of the Mountain West Tournament.
“We didn’t play well today,” Wolf Pack head coach Jane Albright said. “We know that we didn’t. I’m disappointed in how we played, but I’m not disappointed in this group. There’s a huge difference in that we’ve had a lot of things go wrong this year with injuries and that type of thing.
“They never turned upon each other or pointed fingers. Their character is impeccable. They’re great student-athletes. This is not how we wanted to end particularly after such a good outing on senior night.”
The loss marked the final game for Nevada’s standout center Mimi Mungedi, who collected a game-high 23 points and tied her career-high of seven blocked shots. Earlier in the day, Mungedi was awarded her second straight MWC Defensive Player of the Year award.
It was also Emily Burns’ final game in silver and blue. The forward tied a career-best with seven assists.
The Wolf Pack went into intermission, trailing 32-28, before being routed in the second half.
The Aztecs’ defense suffocated the Wolf Pack throughout the game. San Diego State’s press defense forced Nevada to commit 24 turnovers — with most coming down the stretch. San Diego State didn’t just cause turnovers, though; it capitalized on them by scoring 26 points.
Overall, the Aztecs shot the ball 57 times to Nevada’s 37.
“San Diego State did up the defense a lot, put the press on us and their hands were everywhere,” Burns said. “It was just us not handling the pressure that well. We could have learned our lesson a little bit earlier, but we just didn’t adjust well enough.”
Rebounding also proved to be the Wolf Pack’s downfall. Throughout most of the season, Nevada has outrebounded most games. However, the Aztecs outrebounded the Wolf Pack 33-24 — including 12-3 on the offensive glass. The lack of offensive boards killed Nevada, which is usually one of its strong suits.
While the seniors’ MWC Tournament run didn’t have a fairy tale ending, winning on their senior night will be a memory no one will be able to take from them.
“Honestly I can’t think of words to describe the feeling,” senior Aja Johnson said after the senior night win. “I know for our senior class, you dedicate the last four years of your life here and it’s just a crazy feeling to know you gave it your all and this is the last time you’re going to play in the place where you slept and you lived. It’s been your home. For me, I couldn’t have asked for a better four years and just feel so blessed to have such great teammates and staff. We just battled. We wanted it more. There’s not a better feeling than winning on senior night.”
Nicole Skow can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.