Essence Booker wears all grey and blue as she engages with a Sacramento State defender. The defender is wearing all green with white accents.
Jayme Sileo/Nevada Sagebrush.Essence Booker led Nevada in total points, 21, in their victory over Sacramento State on Saturday.

After two games at Lawlor Events Center, Nevada women’s basketball is off to a 2-0 start. 

St. Mary’s

Nevada women’s basketball earned their first season opener win since the 2014 season, beating the St. Mary’s Gaels 78-72 on Tuesday, Nov. 5. 

The Wolf Pack finished the season opener with 47.6 percent shooting. The Pack also went 53.3 percent from three-point range, finishing 8-15.

Sophomore guard Essence Booker led the team on the night. The second-year baller finished the night with 17 points on 7-13 shooting. She also finished with five rebounds and three assists. 

The Wolf Pack bench was also a key to success in this victory. Coming off the bench, sophomore guard Amaya West provided a boost to the Nevada offense, ending the night with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists. 

Sophomore guard Imani Lacy also provided a boost from the bench. One of the Pack’s top returners who averaged 6.7 points her freshman year, Lacy finished her time on the court with 13 points, with 6-10 shooting from the floor. 

Nevada’s defense showed a strong performance, ending the game with a combined 11 steals. Freshman guard Alyssa Jimenez led the team in the category, ending up with three steals of her own. 

Despite their strong offensive showing, the Pack struggled in the paint, getting out-rebounded by a margin of 14.

The Pack never trailed against the Gaels. They started the first half with authority, going into halftime up 35-27. The Pack shot 3-4 from the three-point line in the second quarter. And Jimenez led the way on the Wolf Pack defense with three steals in the first half. 

The second half the Pack allowed for the Gaels to pull in closer. The third period ended with the Pack up 49-45 after not scoring for the final 2:18 of the period. 

The Gaels brought the game to within two points early in the fourth, but the Pack held on for the remainder of the game.

Sacramento State

The Nevada women’s basketball team took to Lawlor at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, as they took on the Sacramento State Hornets. The Wolf Pack took care of business beating the Hornets 83-72, improving to 2-0 on the season. This was the first time scoring 80 points in a regular-season game since March 2018. 

Before the tip, a familiar face was standing around center court waiting for the start, except this time, Camariah King was dressed in green and white rather than the regular silver and blue. King was a starter for the Pack last year and led the team in both assists and three-pointers last season. 

“You know, she was a great player, she did so many great things for us when she played at Nevada,” Coach Levens said. “She hit big shots, she helped us play in a postseason tournament and got her degree from here. And so we knew that she was capable of scoring a lot of points. And I thought if the game was close, she would definitely hit a big shot because she always did that for us.”

It was a back and forth affair, but the Hornets held on to a slight lead early. Nevada closed the gap making it 42-45, Hornets at the half. Essence Booker and Imani Lacy gave the Pack a powerful one-two punch in the first half as they combined for 22 of the Pack’s 42 points.

Fouls were a common theme in the first half as Nevada made it to the line 22 times, whereas the Hornets made it to the line 20 times. The Pack kept the high powered attack going as the finished with 42 attempts from the free-throw line. 

“I think our team, honestly, we didn’t have it going,” Coach Levens said. “You know, we missed some shots that we maybe normally would make so we didn’t settle for them. I was really proud of us being really diligent with our shot selection.”

At the half, the Pack had a tremendous advantage on the glass as they out-rebounded the Hornets 26-17. One reason for this was Marguerite Effa and Alyssa Jimenez, who each had five boards. By the end of the game, the Pack out-rebounded Sacramento by 21, winning the rebounding battle 56-35. 

“We talked about how poorly we rebounded against Saint Mary’s,” Coach Levens said. “If we want to be a good team you can’t rebound like that. You can’t get out-rebounded by 10-plus and expect to win night in, night out.”

The Pack then pulled away late into the third quarter to take a 61-56 lead going into the final quarter. Effa was a player on a mission as she accounted for six out of the 13 points in the third period. 

The Pack went on a 9-0 run in the middle of the fourth to give Nevada a 10 point lead into the latter half of the fourth quarter. The Pack relied heavily on inside scoring as they failed to make one three-pointer going 0-7 from beyond the arch. 

Nevada women’s basketball now turns their sights to Saturday, Nov. 16 when they take on The Utah Valley Wolverines at 1 p.m.

Jory Richardson and Austin Paschke can be reached at and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.