RENO, Nev. – The University of Nevada women’s basketball team opened its annual John Ascuaga’s Nugget Classic with an 86-79 win over Cleveland State Friday afternoon at Lawlor Events Center.
The Wolf Pack had a program record six players score in double figures. The last time Nevada had five or more players score in double figures was during the 2011-12 season, where Nevada had five score in double digits in its 87-86 overtime loss against Idaho.
With the win, Nevada improves to (3-1, 0-0 MW) on the season while Cleveland State drops to (1-3, 0-0 Horizon League). Nevada advances to the Nugget Classic Championship game Saturday at 4:30 p.m., where the team will face Toledo (3-1, 0-0 MAC) at Lawlor Events Center. The Rockets defeated Santa Clara 70-48 in the second game of the day. The 3-1 start ties a program best for head coach Jane Albright. Albright’s 2010-11 Wolf Pack squad began the year 3-1, on its way to a 22-11 finish.
Nevada stormed out to a 10-0 lead, as the team knocked down consecutive three point baskets and mid-range jump shots to start the game. Cleveland State settled in and took a 27-25 lead at 5:38 on a made triple by Kiersten Green. Sophomore Emily Burns carried the offensive load for the Pack in the opening half, pouring in a career high 13 points to give Nevada a 43-36 lead at halftime. The Vikings were led at the break by Shalonda Winton with 16 points.
Wolf Pack freshman Nyasha LeSure and sophomore Mimi Mungedi were productive down low in the second half. Both players had a series of strong finishes around the rim to extend the team’s lead to 56-44 at the 15:14 mark. Mungedi and LeSure finished with career highs of 14 and 10 points respectively. Cleveland State’s Sholanda Winton continued to score in bunches for the Vikings, bringing her team within three points of the Wolf Pack with five minutes to go in regulation. Nevada handled Cleveland State’s full court pressure and connected on free-throws late to take an 86-79 victory. Emily Burns recorded her third career double-double, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Chanelle Brennan added 14 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Terilyn Moe finished with 13 points, while junior Danika Sharp had 11 points. Vikings forward Shalonda Winton led all scorers with 31 points.
Saturday’s championship game will mark the first meeting between Nevada and Toledo. The game also marks the seventh time in the last eight Nugget Classic tournaments that the team will play in the championship game. Nevada lost to No. 16 Penn State in the championship game last season 103-65 and won the classic during the 2010-11 season, defeating San Diego State 63-61.