Nevada Wolf Pack forward Terae Briggs’ length has earned her the nickname “Gumby”, but it’s her increased role and production on the floor that has stretched Briggs’ ceiling to new heights.
Briggs leads the team with a career-high 15.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on 52 percent shooting. She’s logged a career-high 629 minutes and has no plans of slowing down in order to get the Nevada women’s team their first NCAA appearance in school history. Coming one win short from a tournament appearance last season, Briggs is hungry to top-off her collegiate career on a strong note.
“It’s been a transition, last year I played as a more defensive-minded player,” she said. “Now I’ve had to become the go-to scorer and still play defense on the other end, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win.”
Briggs generates most of her points down low with a series of smooth post moves and jump hooks. Her jumper has improved as well, nailing four of 10 attempts from three-point territory this season.
“Terae put in a lot time over the summer improving that jumper,” coach Amanda Levens said. “She probably made a couple thousand threes so she’s more comfortable stepping out on the perimeter which has made her even tougher to guard.”
Along with Briggs’ scoring prowess on the block or perimeter, it’s her athleticism and relentless hustle on the boards that garnered her nickname with the rest of the team.
“The girls call her Gumby. She comes up with these rebounds that don’t make any sense,” Levens said. “She reaches out and has you wondering how she can go so far with her body, kind of like rubber.”
Briggs’ calm and collected demeanor on the floor has set the standard for a young and inexperienced Wolf Pack squad. She and guard Jade Redmon are the only seniors on the team joined by six true freshman. Briggs doesn’t use words to get her point across, but instead lets her play do the talking.
“She really wants to win, but she’s not going to scream at her teammates or lead in a loud vocal way,” Levens said. “She leads the team by example with her work ethic and putting in the extra time for film study. She wants to leave it all out there on the floor and she’s showing it.”
Briggs’ love for the game is infectious, which stems from her basketball-heavy family background. Briggs has two aunts, uncles and three cousins who all played college basketball. Growing up in Pryor, Montana, Briggs was a natural on the court.
“I’ve been around basketball my whole life,” she said. “I started competition in fifth grade. Growing up and learning the game from my aunts and uncles made me want to play basketball even more.”
Briggs was affiliated within the Crow Tribe growing up within a native-focused household. Her roots had an impact on her decision coming out of Plenty Coups High School. Briggs enrolled at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, a tribal community with an enrollment of under 1,000 students. UTTC wasn’t known for their sports programs, but she would have an immediate impact on the basketball program.
“I’m so used to being around other natives that it just felt like home to me going to United Tribes,” Briggs said. “It felt like a natural choice.”
In her first season with United Tribes, Briggs was named Region XIII MVP and led the Thunderbirds to its first-ever Region Championship. She transferred to Nevada the following season and has logged over 500 career points and 1,500 minutes in just over two seasons.
Briggs has improved every aspect of her game this season, and it’s helping the Nevada women’s team rebound from a slow 7-12 start this season.
“I found out junior college was a lot different than Division I,” Briggs said. “So I just wanted to contribute as much as I could and make an impact on the team. I’ve learned so much here and it’s been great.”
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, Briggs and the rest of the Wolf Pack will make one final push in order for a chance at an NCAA Tournament appearance in March.
“We’re putting all the pieces together,” Briggs said. “And we have to keep playing our best brand of ball to improve in the standings.”
Off the floor, Briggs is double-majoring in human development and family studies. She hopes to be a family prevention specialist when her collegiate career is all said and done.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.