In the final bout of exhibition matches prior to the start of the regular season, Nevada men’s and women’s basketball took to Lawlor Events Center. Both matches were an opportunity for the Wolf Pack to tighten up their game as the regular season approaches. Each match ended in a Wolf Pack victory.
Nevada women’s basketball vs. William Jessup
Nevada’s potent offensive attack helped the Pack cruise to a 102-56 victory over William Jessup.
The Wolf Pack shot 55 percent from the field and 55 percent from 3-point range.
Four players scored in double figures. Senior forward Marguerite Effa poured in a game-high 20 points on 9-11 shooting. Junior guard Essence Booker scored 16 points on 6-9 from the floor. Nia Alexander added 12 points and two steals and freshman forward Dom Phillips chipped in with 10 points of her own.
Head coach Amanda Levens was impressed with the Pack’s offensive display.
“I thought everybody got to contribute which is great for your team,” she said. “We really shared the ball and played as a unit. There’s things we need to improve on, but it was good to see us in our uniforms tonight.”
Levens opened the contest with an evenly mixed starting unit. Freshmen Jená Williams, Phillips and Alyssa Jimenez joined sophomore Amaya West and junior Jacqulynn Nakai to make up the starting five.
Off the bench, sophomore Da’Ja Hamilton, Booker, Effa and Alexander provided an offensive spark with 50 combined points.
Nevada pushed the tempo in the open court with unselfish ball movement. In the half-court set, the Pack swung the ball around the perimeter and fed it inside with crisp bounce passes.
“It’s important for us to play with that aggressiveness,” Levens said. “We want to push it and bring it on both ends.”
William Jessup shot just 35 percent from the floor and 1-13 shooting from three-point range. Nevada played with a physical mindset from the opening tip, hustling for loose balls and coming up with 20 steals.
“I thought they played hard out there,” Levens said. “We still need to work on our game fitness… I was pleased with our effort and our ability to stay disciplined.”
The Wolf Pack jumped out to an early 10-6 with lead with back-to-back three-pointers from Booker and Akai. Nevada led 29-11 after the first quarter, closing it out with a 7-0 run.
More of the same continued in the second quarter, Nevada pushed the pace and found easy buckets in transition. The Warriors couldn’t find any offensive rhythm, which helped the Pack build a commanding lead 57-25 at the half.
Nevada led 81-42 to end the third quarter with three-straight made layups. The Wolf Pack reached the 100-point mark with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Nevada women’s basketball opens the season against St. Mary’s on Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. in Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada men’s basketball vs. Colorado Christian University
In the final exhibition match of the preseason, a late second-half explosion propelled Nevada men’s basketball to an 86-55 victory over Colorado Christian on Wednesday night at Lawlor Events Center.
Five players reached double figures on the night. Junior guard Jalen Harris notched a team-high 26 points on 9-16 shooting. He finished with 47 total points on 51.7 percent shooting from the field in two scrimmage games this year.
“I thought we did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball,” head coach Steve Alford said.
Senior guard Jazz Johnson totaled 16 points on 6-13 shooting. The 5-foot-11-inch sharpshooter shot 2-6 from behind the arc, creating open-shot opportunities and shots at the rim due to his quickness across the court.
Nisré Zouzoua scored 12 points on 3-7 shooting from deep. Johncarlos Reyes used his big frame inside for Nevada, tallying 12 points and hauling in six rebounds in 24 productive minutes.
In his second game back from injury, senior guard Lindsey Drew hauled in a team-high nine rebounds, shooting 5-10 from the court. He also notched a score from behind the arc.
“I feel good,” Drew said.
Harris erupted early, scoring eight of the team’s first 13 points. His 13 first half points, came on 6-11 shooting and 1-4 from deep, provided an early spark for the Pack’s offense.
Sophomore forward Robby Robinson made his first appearance of the season during Wednesday’s game. He sat out the first scrimmage game with an undisclosed injury. The San Diego City College transfer had one point and six rebounds in 17 minutes.
Nevada dominated in the interior, out-rebounding the Cougars 48-28 and out-scoring the Cougars 42-14 in the paint.
The Wolf Pack caught fire in the middle of the first half. Four consecutive three-point baskets—two courtesy of Zouzoua—put Nevada ahead 29-9 with 8:31 remaining.
The biggest lead of the half came off a three-point play conversion from Johnson and put the Wolf Pack ahead 42-19 with 1:32 remaining.
Nevada led 42-23 heading into halftime. The stifling Pack defense held CCU to 32.1 percent shooting in the first half, including 21.4 percent from deep.
Back-to-back threes by CCU’s Justin Engesser to open the half cut the Wolf Pack lead to 42-29. Nevada responded with a 13-9 run to put them ahead 55-38 capped off by a Reyes layup.
Engesser drilled his third three of the half, cutting the lead to 63-51 with 8:01 remaining.
“I thought we played the score in the first 12 minutes of the second half,” Alford said. “It was not good basketball by us, the first 12 minutes out of the second half is a dangerous way for this young group to play.”
The Wolf Pack responded with an 18-2 run in the next four minutes, putting them ahead 81-53. Harris and Johnson combined to score 14 of the team’s 18 points during that span. They concluded the final three minutes on a 5-2 run, winning 86-55.
“In six and-a-half minutes, we held them to one field goal,” Alford said. “Our guys responded, which is good to see. Hopefully they’ve learned a lesson. Just because you’re up 19 at half, all the sudden you can’t play a whole another style of ball.”
The Wolf Pack begins the regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 5 against the Utah Utes at 7:30 p.m. in Lawlor Events Center.
Isaiah Burrows and Matt Hanifan can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports