Following a crushing home loss to a conference win-free Utah State on Jan. 31, the Wolf Pack women’s basketball team traveled to Laramie, Wyoming on Feb. 3, to take on the second-best team in conference play, falling to the Cowgirls 59-52. This loss marks the Wolf Pack’s third consecutive loss.
The game was a close, defensive contest. Nevada led a balanced offensive attack early, leading 16-13 at the end of the first quarter with star guard Audrey Roden leading the Pack with four points.
Nevada opened the second quarter with a 4-0 run, taking a 20-13 lead, after which Wyoming’s offense rattled off six straight points of their own to cut their deficit to one. Roden made two layups to take a 24-19 lead before Wyoming went on a 6-1 run, going into halftime with the two teams tied at 25 apiece.
The two teams continued to struggle offensively in the third quarter, missing a combined six attempts before a field goal was made. Nevada took a 33-32 lead with 4:07 left in the quarter thanks to Izzy Sullivan, Nevada guard, scoring five points, but Wyoming would begin to pull ahead late in the third, scoring eight in the final four minutes while holding Nevada to just two. Natalie Lathrop, Nevada forward, made a jumper as time expired, leaving the score 40-37 in favor of the Cowgirls entering the final quarter.
Wyoming dominated the fourth quarter, going on a 11-4 run to build a 51-41 lead with 4:15 remaining. Nevada’s offensive struggles continued, particularly on one possession that began after a Nevada timeout with 7:38 remaining, where Nevada missed four shots in a row, all from inside the arc, as Wyoming’s defense refused to give the Wolf Pack any momentum.
Nevada made a fierce rally, with five straight points in the closing minutes, cutting the deficit to 51-46 with 1:42 remaining. However, the Pack committed offensive fouls on back-to-back possessions, which put the game out of reach. The Wolf Pack played the intentional foul game at the end as they scored six points in the final seconds, but Wyoming nailed all eight free throw attempts, which brought the final score to 59-52 in favor of the Cowgirls.
Defense was the name of the game in this matchup, which gave Wyoming, who entered the game with the Mountain West’s second best scoring defense, the edge. Roden was the overall scoring leader in the first half with eight points, which led to Wyoming’s defense focusing on the Nevada star in the second half. The Cowgirls held Roden scoreless the rest of the way on 0-2 shooting with three fouls and three turnovers.
The Wolf Pack played surprisingly well on defense, considering Nevada possessed the eight best scoring defense in the MWC entering this game. Nevada held Wyoming to a putrid 1-12, or 8.3%, on three-pointers while out-rebounding the Cowgirls 34-31 and stealing the ball eight times.
One of the biggest problems for the Wolf Pack in the game was an inability to create any sort of offensive chemistry. Kennedy Lee, Nevada forward, and Sullivan led the Pack in scoring with 10 apiece, but both Lee (5-11) and Sullivan (4-9) missed over half of their attempts.
Lexie Givens, Nevada forward, was the only Wolf Pack player to make at least half of her attempts, but she only attempted three shots all game, while also turning the ball over four times, tied with Roden for the most on the team.
However, the main place this game was lost was at the free-throw line. Wyoming, a 75.3% free-throw averaging team, went an outstanding 14-16, or 87.5%, from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack, who is 68.6% on free throws this season, went a paltry 3-9, or 33.3%.
As a result, the Wolf Pack (11-12, 5-5 MWC) slipped into a tie for fifth in the MWC standings with Colorado State and San Diego State.
The Wolf Pack women’s next match up will be in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Feb. 7 against Air Force at 5:30 p.m.
Chase Dulude can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TheBigCountry14