Photo courtesy of Nevada Athletics. Sophomore guard Leta Otuafi fends off William Jessup defenders during Nevada’s 2020- 21 season opener.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are undefeated as they continue the 2020-21 season. The men’s team is 3-0 after winning games against North Dakota State, Nebraska, and Pacific. The women’s team is 1-0 after beating William Jessup 66-65 over the weekend.

The Wolf Pack women were scheduled to play their season opener against San Francisco on Nov. 27, which was canceled due to COVID-19 contact tracing. The game will not be rescheduled. 

The men’s team spent last week at the Golden Window Classic, where they dominated North Dakota State 62-48 and host school Nebraska 69-66. In their home opener on Nov. 30, they competed against Pacific, winning 70-58. 

In the first half against the Pacific Tigers, the Pack struggled to extend their lead more than eight points. The Tigers fought to keep the game close, answering most of Nevada’s made baskets and taking the lead every few plays.

With less than two minutes left, sophomore guard Zane Meeks scored two points off a fast break, and successfully added two free throws after a foul by Pacific’s Jonathan Salazar. The first half ended with the Pack ahead 37-35.

A few minutes into the second half, Pacific managed to take the lead by five points. A three point shot by Meeks and another by freshman guard Alem Huseinovic a minute later shut down the Tigers’ progression and put the Wolf Pack back in the game. 

The momentum set up a five minute 16-2 run by Nevada, which stretched their advantage and cemented their third straight win. 

Meeks scored the most points during the game with 18, followed by newcomer Grant Sherfield with 17. 30 points came from the bench, and 20 were made from the paint. As a team, Nevada made 40 percent of three point shot attempts and 66.7 percent of free throws. 

The women’s team opened their season with a home win against the William Jessup Warriors. 

Junior guard Da’Ja Hamilton scored the first points of the game for the Wolf Pack, a three pointer off of an assist from sophomore guard Alyssa Jimenez. The game was tight, with both teams taking the lead several times and tying ten times. Neither could get more than 11 points over their opponent.

During the second quarter, Nevada dominated the Warriors and gained a lead of 11 points due to  layups by freshman forward Lexie Givens and junior guard Amaya West, jumpers by senior guard LaPraisjah Johnson and a strong defensive effort. The visitors leveled the game by outscoring the Pack 24-17 in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter began with a tie at 51. William Jessup hustled to pull a five point lead, and the Pack’s sophomore guard Leta Otuafi sunk two free throws, cutting the lead to three. A fast break layup by Johnson forced it down to one. 

With a minute left in the game, a lay up by Otuafi gave Nevada a one point advantage before a free throw by William Jessup tied the score once more. A successful free throw by Hamilton put the Pack one point over the Warriors who had time for a final shot, which was shut down by the Pack’s strong defense as time ran out. 

Hamilton led the team in points, scoring 15, followed by Otuafi with 13, and 12 points each for Johnson and West. In her Division I debut, Otuafi also led in rebounds with 12 total. Players from the bench added 19 points to the scoreboard, and 77.8 percent of free throws were made by the team.

Up Next: The men’s team will host San Francisco on Dec. 2 and travel there on Dec. 6. The women were scheduled to travel to Air Force and play on Dec. 4 and 6, which has been postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests on the Falcons side. They will travel to Sacramento State on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Madeleine Chinery can be reached at mchinery@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @mchinery6