One word can summarize the Nevada women’s basketball team’s 83-72 win over Sacramento State on Saturday: Adjustments.
Sacramento State opened the first quarter shooting 6-for-9 from 3-point range to build an early double-digit lead. But Nevada responded with a physical inside scoring presence and tight perimeter defense for the remaining 30 minutes.
The Hornets went 0-for-21 from 3-point territory over the next three quarters, which helped Nevada outscore Sacramento State 40 to 27 in the second half.
Nevada improved to 2-0 on the season.
Head coach Amanda Levens honed in on Sacramento State’s shooting prowess and it paid dividends.
“We really wanted to guard the 3-point line against them,” she said. “Last year they averaged eight per game and we wanted to hold them to five. … But we never panicked, focused on getting stops and executing on offense.”
The Wolf Pack shot 38 percent from the floor and went 0-for-7 from 3-point range. Four players scored in double figures.
Essence Booker scored a team-high 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting with five rebounds and two steals. Marguerite Effa had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Imani Lacy added 14 points and seven rebounds. Nia Alexander added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Levens has used the Pack’s depth throughout the year.
“We have two people for the most part at every position that we know we can look toward to play well,” she said. “I do feel like we have several players that are capable of scoring in double figures each night. So it’s up to us to find the matchup that favors us the most.”
Sacramento State shot just 30 percent from the floor. The Pack forced 18 turnovers and had nine steals and blocks. The Pack’s physical play led to 17 points off turnovers.
Camariah King made a return to Lawlor Events Center. King transferred to Sacramento State on April 3. She played all 31 games for the Wolf Pack last season and scored double figures in 13 games. King scored two points on 0-for-11 shooting.
Levens had high praise for King’s play at Nevada.
“She was a great player who did so many great things for us,” Levens said. “I thought if the game was close she would hit a big shot for them like she’s done for us. She just had a tough shooting night, and for someone whose coached her for two years you feel for her.”
Booker, Alyssa Jimenez, Miki’ala Maio, Lacy and Alexander made up the starting five.
Sacramento State opened the first quarter hot from 3-point territory. Nevada responded with layups in transition and second-chance points in the half court set. Effa’s free-throw line jumper at the buzzer cut the Pack’s deficit to 24-20.
The Hornets built the led 32-23 three minutes into the second quarter. Nevada answered with Booker’s contested jumper to trim the lead to 43-39.
Nevada trailed 45-42 at the half.
Booker’s steal and three-point play put the Pack up 51-49 early in the third quarter. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter. The Wolf Pack led 61-56.
Sacramento State issued a full-court press to pressure Nevada’s quickness up the floor. The Pack took advantage at the free throw line to secure the win.
The Nevada women’s team travels to Orem, Utah to face Utah Valley on Saturday, Nov. 16.
— Isaiah Burrows
Notes: Nevada out-rebounded Sacramento State 56 to 35. … The Wolf Pack had 14 assists and 23 fast break points.