LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In the opening round of the 2020 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Championship, the Nevada women’s basketball team held off the No. 9 seed, New Mexico, 74-64 on Sunday to advance to the quarterfinals.
The game was tight throughout the entire 40 minutes as neither team held a double digit lead until the Wolf Pack (15-15) stretched the lead out to 10 with under a minute to go. The Lobos (15-17) owned the first quarter with their best offensive showing of the game, shooting 46.7 percent from the field in that quarter. New Mexico would have taken a nine-point lead into quarter two if it hadn’t been for a buzzer beating 3-point heave from sophomore Da’Ja Hamilton to end the first.
The second quarter was all about runs as the Lobos pushed their lead out to eight, but Nevada quickly cut the lead down to three with still 6:12 to play in the quarter. It was New Mexico’s turn to then go on a run, extending the lead back out to eight points with under five to play in the first half. The Wolf Pack then went to work and embarked on a 13-2 run that lasted until the 1:38 mark, giving Nevada a three-point edge. A pair of free throws and a layup as time expired in the quarter though swapped the lead back to the Lobos, 37-36, at the break.
Nevada hung with New Mexico for much of the third quarter, but needed to string together some points in the last few minutes of the period after the Lobos went up by eight with 3:40 on the clock. The Wolf Pack owned the rest of the third quarter, outscoring its opponent 11-2 the remainder of the period to take a one-point lead into the final 10 minutes. During that 11-2 run, Nevada got points from five different players.
Needing a lock down fourth quarter, Nevada did just that. The Wolf Pack defense held the Lobos to their worst offensive quarter of the game, connecting on just 21.1 percent from the field and 1-of-10 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile the Wolf Pack offense came alive with one of its best quarters of the game, knocking down two triples and nearly 43 percent of its shots. Nevada began to slightly distance itself around the 3:02 mark when sophomore Essence Booker’s jumper put the Pack up by five. The Lobos answered with a two of their own, but then Hamilton had a wide open look under the basket for a layup with 2:14 to go, extending the Pack’s lead back to five. From there the Pack defense did not allow New Mexico to score the rest of the game, and added five points at the foul line to seal the 10-point victory.
Individually for the Wolf Pack, sophomore Imani Lacy was a force to be reckoned with. Lacy scored a game-high 20 points, the third 20-point game of her career, and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. She was all-around solid adding a career-best four assists as well. Hamilton also put together a career-game, scoring 19 points, which included going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Freshman Alyssa Jimenez added 10 points for the Pack and was perfect on the day, hitting 4-of-4 from the field. Another strong rebounder was sophomore Amaya West, who totaled a career-best 10 rebounds to go along with seven points.
Nevada will face the No. 1 seed in Fresno State on Monday, March 2 at 12 p.m. from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.