March 12, 2010
RENO, Nevada - Adrienne Johnson scored 29 points and Shanavia Dowdell added 24 points to lead Louisiana Tech to an 80-77 win over Nevada in the semifinals of the 2010 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Friday afternoon at Lawlor Events Center.
With the victory, Tech advances to Saturday's championship game against top-seed Fresno State, which defeated Idaho 80-66 in the first semifinal game of the day.
Although a team effort in the win, Tech road the backs of their first team all-WAC duo as both Johnson and Dowdell each scored 17 points after intermission to lead the Lady Techsters (22-8) to a come-from-behind win in a game that saw 15 lead changes and 11 ties.
"It was a hard fought battle between two teams who didn't want to lose," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "Nevada is very well coached. I have great respect for Jane Albright. We had to fight hard down the stretch to win."
Johnson, who hit 11-of-12 field goals in the game, gave LA Tech the lead on a 17-foot jumper with 2:23 to play as Tech would not relinquish the lead down the stretch.
"We knew we didn't want to go home like last year," Johnson said. "We knew it was going to be a fight, and we had to come out and play hard from the opening tip. We did."
Tech survived a potential game-tying three-point attempt by Nevada guard Johnna Ward after the Wolf Pack stole the inbounds pass with less than six seconds remaining and trailing by three. However, Ward's open look from 22 feet away missed left and the buzzer sounded as Tech avenged a heart-breaking 91-88 overtime loss to Nevada in last year's WAC Tournament semifinal game.
"This was two great teams," said Nevada head coach Jane Albright. "You can't play with any more heart and soul than we did tonight. This was just one of those nights. We played one of the best games we've played all year."
The second half was a back and forth affair as neither team had more than a four-point lead at any time as the lead changed hands nine times.
Dowdell, who scored only seven points in the first half, came to life early in the second half and dominated inside scoring at will at times while also getting Nevada's frontline of Williams and Shavon Moore into foul trouble.
Moore gave Nevada its last lead of the night with a jumper at the 2:45 mark of the game before Tech answered right back with Johnson's jumper, giving the Lady Techsters a 74-73 advantage. After a turnover by Amanda Johnson, Tech junior guard Whitney Jones hit two free throw with 1:18 to play to push the lead to 76-73.
Ward then answered with an 18-foot jumper 10 seconds later to cut the Tech lead down to 76-75. However, Johnson had the answer one more time driving down the right side of the lane to score with 43 seconds to play as Tech once again led by three.
After a missed jumper by Nevada, Jasmine Bendolph hit two free throws with 25 seconds left to push the lead out to 80-75. Moore scored with 6.3 seconds to play to bring the score within 80-77 and after a Nevada timeout, Moore stole away the inbounds pass and hit Ward for the potential game-tying three which was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.
Tech, which played without senior guard Tiawana Pringle who was injured in Wednesday's win over Utah State, saw all five of its starters play the final 20 minutes of the game in the win. The Lady Techsters shot 53 percent from the field, including an eye-popping 68 percent (19-28) in the final half.