On the evening of Feb. 12, both Nevada basketball teams took on in-state rival, UNLV. The women’s team played host at Lawlor, while the men’s team traveled down south. Both teams walked away with their heads high, finishing off their opponents by three points each.
In a roller coaster of a match, Nevada women’s basketball defeated their intrastate rival, UNLV, 62-59. The victory was earned from gritty performances from the likes of Marguerite Effa, Essence Booker and Nia Alexander.
The trio combined for a total of 36 points against UNLV. That is over half of the total points scored by Nevada on the night.
Effa led the Pack in total points with 14, all while playing the second-fewest minutes of any Nevada player. She also recovered four rebounds, two offensive and two defensive. The grad-transfer from USC played a physical brand of basketball throughout the night, sticking close to her opponents while on the court.
Booker and Alexander both had 11 total points against the Runnin’ Rebels. Both players also helped the Pack defensively, picking up seven defensive rebounds between the two of them.
Booker, a sophomore from Las Vegas, was second on the team in total playtime, clocking in over 27 minutes on the court.
Nevada and UNLV traded blows for most of the first quarter, with UNLV holding onto a one-point lead at the conclusion of the first. This was largely due to strong shootings from both the three-point and free-throw line. As a team, the Rebels sunk all their free throws in the first and made the only three-point shot of the quarter.
UNLV rode their first-quarter momentum into the second, ending the half with a six-point lead over Nevada. This was largely due to the efforts of Rodjanae Wade and Justice Ethridge, who combined for seven points in the quarter. Wade also proved to be an effective defender in the quarter, recovering four total rebounds.
As the third quarter opened, Nevada was faced with a six-point deficit. The Wolf Pack struggled out of the locker room, falling down an additional six points near the six-minute mark of the quarter.
This proved to be the turning point of the match.
Nevada quickly responded with a three-point shot from Booker which electrified the Wolf Pack bench. Thanks to a strong defensive resurgence from Booker and Da’Ja Hamilton, Nevada began to claw their way back into the game.
As the quarter came to a close, the Pack’s Alexander hit a three-point shot with 41 seconds left, cutting the Rebels lead to only two, 43-41.
The first shot of the fourth quarter tied up the ball game at 43 apiece—Effa connected on an inside the paint jumper.
Guard Alyssa Jimenez stole the ball from the Rebels’ Kavionnia Brown, which set up Effa to give the Pack their first lead since second quarter. UNLV kept it tight for the remainder of the ball game, but Nevada managed to stay for most of the remaining time.
The game was tied for a brief moment with just under five to play, but it didn’t last long. Hamilton connected on a shot from beyond the arc, giving Nevada the lead once again.
UNLV nipped at the Pack’s heels for the rest of the quarter but were unable to take back the lead. At the conclusion, Nevada left Lawlor with a three-point victory and their third straight win.
Although Nevada needed extra time, the outcome should look familiar for Wolf Pack fans. Nevada men’s basketball picked up their sixth straight win over rival, UNLV, in an overtime thriller.
Leading the way for the Pack were some of the usual key pieces like Jalen Harris, Jazz Johnson, Nisré Zouzoua and Lindsey Drew.
Harris narrowly missed an opportunity to extend his 30 plus scoring streak, ending the match with 29 points. Harris shot 9-21 from field goal range and hit 11-15 from the free-throw line. Additionally, the junior guard from Dallas, Tex., proved to be a defensive force, recovering 14 total rebounds.
Harris was the only player to play the entire game—UNLV or Nevada.
Drew continued to build on his impressive senior season. The guard recovered 13 total rebounds over his nearly 33 minutes on the court. He also shot for 2-7 from field goal range and was perfect from the free-throw line—2-2.
Johnson and Zouzoua combined for a total of 31 points on the night, with 19 going to Johnson. 12 of Johnson’s 19 came from beyond the three-point line, with the senior hitting 4-8 from beyond the arc.
UNLV came out of the locker room hot to start the game, hitting two from beyond the arc in the first minute. Nevada quickly fell behind the Runnin’ Rebels as UNLV opened the game on an 8-2 run.
Nevada snapped back into the game following this run, tying it up with just under 15 to play in the half at 11 apiece. The Pack then went on a 6-0 run, shaving off five minutes in the process.
UNLV kept on the Pack’s heels but were never able to take the lead again in the first half. When the buzzer sounded at halftime, Nevada led 39-37.
The Runnin’ Rebels’ Cheikh Mbacke Diong fouled Harris to open the second half of scoring. Harris went to the free-throw line, sinking only one.
Harris got another chance shortly after the missed free throw to go back to the line. UNLV’s Amauri Hardy fouled Harris shortly after the previous foul, and Harris sunk both shots.
The Wolf Pack held onto a slight lead over UNLV until just under the 12-minute mark. The Rebels’ Jonah Antonio connected on a fast break layup to give UNLV a one-point lead.
Nevada stayed on the Rebels’ heels, never letting their lead grow to more than five.
With just under five minutes left in the game, Nevada managed to tie the game back up at 64 apiece.
The two rivals traded blows for the remainder of the game. Nevada appeared to have sealed the game off of a Harris two-point shot with under 40 seconds to play, but UNLV had one last shot.
With 27 seconds left in regular play, the Rebels’ Bryce Hamilton hit a two-point jumper from just outside the paint. The shot revitalized the Rebels, who held off the Pack to force overtime.
The overtime period proved to be much of the same from the last half of play. Nevada and UNLV traded blows most of the short, 5-minute period.
UNLV had three shot attempts in the final minute of play, missing all three. The missed shots secured a Wolf Pack victory.
The Wolf Pack now head on the road to Albuquerque, New Mex. for a match-up with the Lobos of New Mexico. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Ryan Freeberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SagebrushSports.