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Zoe Malen/The Nevada Sagebrush

In the midst of a three-game losing skid that sent them sliding down to fifth in the Mountain West Conference standings, the Wolf Pack women’s basketball team traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado on Feb. 7. There, they picked up a much-needed road win, beating the Air Force Falcons 62-56. 

For the third straight game, the Pack were again engaged in a close, low-scoring battle with their opponent. Nevada led 20-14 at the end of the first quarter, spreading the ball out nicely against the Falcons’ defense. Victoria Davis, Nevada point guard, led the Pack with five points in the opening period, followed by Kaylee “Keke” Borden, guard, and Kennedy Lee, forward, with four apiece. 

After back-to-back made shots, one by each team, to start the second quarter, the score stalled out at 22-16 for over two minutes. Both teams missed a combined seven shots in a row. Once the scoring began again, the Wolf Pack utilized a balanced attack to pull away. Nevada grew its lead to as many as nine points, and led 33-25 with 1:42 left in the half. 

That score held until four seconds left in the quarter, when Davis made a free throw that increased the Pack’s lead to nine going into the halftime break. Davis once again led the Pack in scoring during this quarter with four points.

Determined to come back into the game, the Falcons opened the third quarter by stifling Nevada’s offense, outscoring the Pack 18-7 to take a 43-41 lead with 1:08 remaining in the quarter. The Falcons held Nevada scoreless for four minutes and 20 seconds in the middle of the quarter, and continued to swarm Davis, who went scoreless in the third. Pack star guard Audrey Roden then hit a crucial layup with 27 seconds to play, and Nevada once again fended off the Air Force offense until time ran out, leaving the score tied at 43 entering the final period.

The Wolf Pack started the fourth quarter by scoring eight straight points, taking a 51-43 lead with 6:03 to play. Air Force then cut the lead to 53-48, after which Nevada went on a 6-2 run to put the game seemingly out of reach The Pack led 59-50 with 57 seconds remaining. 

Air Force cut the lead to 60-56 with 16 seconds left, but two Davis free throws sealed the win for the Wolf Pack.

Whereas the Wyoming game being a low-scoring defensive slugfest was of little surprise, this game being a defensive battle was much more shocking. Air Force entered the game ranked tenth in the Mountain West in points allowed, while Nevada entered ranked eighth in that category. 

The Wolf Pack were the more efficient scoring offense. Nevada both attempted and made six more shots than the Falcons, making 27 of their 66 shot attempts, while Air Force was held to 21-60 on field goals. 

Out of the eight Pack players to see more than 18 minutes, seven of them had five or more points. Roden and Davis led the Pack in scoring with 13 apiece, followed by Lee and Borden with eight each.

It wasn’t all perfect for the Pack, as, in many ways, the Falcons were the stronger team in this game. Nevada made just two of their 11 shots (18.2%) from the 3-point range, whereas Air Force made six of their 20 attempts (35%). Air Force also outperformed Nevada at the free-throw line, making eight of 13 (61.1%), whereas the Pack shot just 6-12 (50%).

Milanhie Perry, Air Force guard, tore apart the Wolf Pack defense, scoring an outstanding 30 points on 10-20 shooting, 4-5 from behind the arc and 6-7 from the charity stripe. However, Nevada held the rest of the Falcons in check, as aside from Madison Smith, Air Force guard, who had 12 on the day, no one else on the Falcons had more than five points.

There were two main reasons the Wolf Pack emerged victorious, the first of which being in points off of turnovers. The Wolf Pack turned the ball over 16 times, which was marginally less than the Falcons’ 18. However, the Wolf Pack scored 15 points off of turnovers, whereas Air Force turned their 16 steals into just eight points.

The second, much more glaring, reason the Pack won was dominance in the paint. The Pack out-rebounded the Falcons 47-36, along with out-scoring the Falcons 44-28 in this area. This massive difference gave the Wolf Pack the edge they needed to exact revenge on the Falcons and snap their three-game losing streak.

As a result, the Wolf Pack (12-12, 6-5 in conference play) now sit in sixth place in the Mountain West standings, sitting a game or less back of both Boise State and San Diego State.

The Wolf Pack women’s next match up will be at home in Lawlor Events Center on February 14, at 6:30 p.m. against San Diego State.
Chase Dulude can be reached via email or via Twitter @TheBigCountry14

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