March 13, 2009
RENO -- In one of the most entertaining games in the history of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, the Nevada Wolf Pack snapped Louisiana Tech's eight-game winning streak in a 91-88 overtime victory at the Lawlor Events Center Friday afternoon.
With the victory, Nevada (18-13) advances to Saturday's championship game against Fresno State, a 57-54 winner over Utah State.
"It was a hard fought game and these are the types of games you live to play," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "I couldn't be more proud of my team. They gave me everything they have and that's all I can ask for. We are going to be a very special basketball team down the road."
In a game that saw six lead changes and three ties, Nevada was the team that made the big plays in the final two minutes of overtime.
After Tech (20-12) took an 83-79 lead on a pair of free throws by Tarkeisha Wysinger with 2:32 remaining in the extra period, Nevada guard Dellena Criner buried a three-pointer on the Wolf Pack's next possession.
Tech guard Jasmine Bendolph, who had a career night with 18 points and six rebounds, gave the Lady Techsters an 85-82 lead with a jumper in the lane with two minutes to play.
"Jasmine Bendolph is going to be a great player," Weatherspoon said. "The way she played tonight was exceptional."
However, a 7-0 Wolf Pack run which was highlighted by a Johnna Ward three-pointer in transition, gave Nevada an 89-85 lead with 17 seconds to play.
Tech's Whitney Jones buried a three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to close the gap to 89-88 and the Lady Techsters were forced to foul Criner, who knocked down two free throws with seven seconds remaining.
"Louisiana Tech is not a good basketball team," said Nevada head coach Jane Albright. "They are a great basketball team. They are so well coached."
The game was tied early at 12-12 at the 12:56 mark of the first half before LA Tech used an 8-0 which was capped by a Shanavia Dowdell three-pointer as the Lady Techsters led 20-12 with 9:17 to play.
Tech held a 36-28 lead late in the first half when Nevada used a 7-0 run cut the deficit to 36-35 before sophomore guard Sidney Stewart hit a running three-pointer from about 28 feet out as the halftime buzzer sounded, giving the Lady Techsters a 39-35 lead.
Nevada came out in the second half strong. With Tech leading 51-45 with 15:45 to play, the Wolf Pack registered a 15-3 run over the next six minutes to take a 60-54 lead.
"We weren't defending, we weren't getting back in transition and we just weren't doing the things we needed to do," Weatherspoon said of the run.
Nevada would keep its lead until Wysinger hit two more free throws at the 2:45 mark of regulation to give the Lady Techsters a 73-71 advantage.
Tech led by two points three times in the final two and a half minutes but Nevada tied the game each time.
Dowdell led Tech with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Adrienne Johnson added 19 points while Jones scored 12 points.
Criner led Nevada with 30 points.
Tech now must wait to find out if it will receive an invite to the WNIT.