Hamilton's game winner lifts Nevada to 70-69 win over SDSU

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RENO, Nev. – Trailing by one with 8.6 seconds remaining, a layup by sophomore Da’Ja Hamilton gave the Nevada women’s basketball team a 70-69 victory over San Diego State on Saturday.

On that possession it was sophomore Imani Lacy who first attempted the go-ahead bucket, but the shot bounced off the front of the rim. Junior Miki’ala Maio grabbed the offensive rebound and swung it in to Hamilton under the basket, who laid the ball up and in. Hamilton’s game-winning shot came with 3.0 seconds still on the clock however. After an Aztecs (8-12, 3-5 MW) timeout advanced the ball to their end, Hamilton played stout defense and did not allow SDSU to get a shot attempt up.

To get to that point, the Wolf Pack (9-9, 2-5 MW) had to fight to stay in line with San Diego State after surrendering a 12-point lead in the third quarter. It was a field goal in the paint from Hamilton that gave Nevada that 12-point advantage with 4:43 left in the third, but the Aztecs’ defense held the Pack to just five more points in the period. Meanwhile the SDSU offense sparked back to life scoring 14 points in the final 4:18 of the third to cut it to a one-point game heading into the fourth.

San Diego State carried that momentum into the start of the fourth quarter, building up a four-point lead with 7:28 on the clock. Nevada then went to work, chipping away at the deficit and regaining the lead at the 6:54 mark on a 3-pointer from junior Jacqulynn Nakai. The remainder of the quarter was back and forth, back and forth, with both teams trading baskets. In the final three minutes of the game, neither side held more than a one point advantage.

The Aztecs regained the lead, 69-68, with 2:09 on the clock after Taylor Kalmer, SDSU’s leading scorer, knocked down a pair of free throws. The Wolf Pack had a few different opportunities to take the lead back, but could not get its shots to fall. The Nevada defense held strong though, not allowing San Diego State to score the remainder of the game. With 25 seconds to go, a shot clock violation by the Aztecs gave possession back to the Wolf Pack and set up the game-winning shot by Hamilton.

Nevada had one of its cleanest games of the season, turning the ball over a season-low six times to 19 assists, led by junior Miki’ala Maio’s team-high six, which tied her season high. Senior Marguerite Effa led the team in scoring, totaling 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. She has scored in double figures in four straight games. Sophomore Essence Booker reached double figures for the ninth time this year, adding 14 points. Booker tied her career high of four made 3-pointers and her rebounding total with six.

Nevada will hit the road next week and travel to Las Vegas, Nev. to take on in-state rival UNLV in a Silver State Series matchup on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m.