March 12, 2008
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Louisiana Tech used two impressive runs to down Nevada 82-56 in quarterfinal action of the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Wednesday afternoon at the Pan American Center.
With the win Tech advances to Friday's semifinal matchup against top-seed Fresno State, who defeated ninth-seeded San Jose State Wednesday afternoon.
The fatal blow started midway through the second half after Nevada (18-12) had hit three consecutive three-pointers to cut a comfortable Tech (16-14) lead down to 56-47 with 12:10 to play.
Tech responded with a game-clinching 26-2 run over the next 10 minutes with Nevada's lone bucket coming on a jumper by Brandi Fitzgerald at the 7:30 mark of the second half. The Lady Techsters hit 11-of-16 shots during the run, and by the time head coach Chris Long emptied his bench, the game was over.
"I was very proud of our team," said Long, who saw his team hold Nevada to only 1-of-16 shooting during the run. "I was concerned about our legs coming into this game (after the last road trip to Hawaii). The difference in the game was that we really defended them. The difference was the defensive intensity."
For the game, Tech held the Wolf Pack only 33 percent shooting (21-63) and forced 23 turnovers. The Lady Techsters, who committed 24 turnovers of their own in the game, outscored Nevada 31-12 on points off of turnovers.
"Louisiana Tech played a great game," said Nevada head coach Kim Gervasoni. "I thought we still got some descent looks, but we missed them and then they came down in transition and didn't miss those same shots. They did a good job of playing physical."
Nevada jumped out to an 8-3 lead three minutes into the game before Tech settled down and started making some shots. Three early turnovers led to the Wolf Pack lead.
A JoKeirra Sneed three-pointer, her first of the year, tied the game at 8-8 and then a Sneed layup followed giving the Lady Techsters their first lead at 10-8.
"I think Nevada got frustrated and that led to some turnovers which we were able to capitalize on," said Long, who saw his team shoot 55 percent (32-58) for the game. "We were able to score off their turnovers. I thought offensively we executed as well as we have all year. They are a good basketball team, and I can't say enough about our effort."
Tech maintained its double digit lead in the second half, holding a 56-38 advantage until Nevada hit three consecutive three-pointers - one by Johnna Ward and two by Dellena Criner.
The Lady Techsters lead was only nine heading into the media timeout under the 12-minute mark but Tech came out of the break and put the game away.
Shanavia Dowdell led five players in double figures with 17 while Adrienne Johnson added 15, Tarkeisha Wysinger added 14 points and nine rebounds, Sneed scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Tiawana Pringle chipped in with 12.
Criner led Nevada with 15 points while Fitzgerald added 10 points and 12 rebounds.