The Nevada women’s basketball team has found its stride at the perfect time.
Winners of three straight games, the Wolf Pack swept Utah State Wednesday, Feb. 24 and Thursday, Feb. 25 at Lawlor Events Center. Nevada (11-8 overall, 7-7 in conference) can clinch a No. 6 seed and potential first-round bye in the Mountain West Tournament with at least one victory over Air Force on March 3 and March 5.
Led by junior guard Da’Ja Hamilton, Nevada has found a balanced offensive attack. Hamilton’s 14.5 points per game leads the team on 38.2 percent shooting from the field and 32.2 percent shooting from 3-point range this season.
Hamilton has taken a massive jump in her offensive performance dating back to her freshman year, but several other Wolf Pack members have made their contributions on the offensive end. Junior guard Amaya West (9.5 ppg) is second on the team in scoring along with senior guards LaPraisjah Johnson (8.6 ppg) and Nia Alexander (8.5 ppg). The contributions continue with sophomore Leta Otuafi averaging 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Nevada has six players averaging at least 7.0 points per game on the season, and it’s translated to high-scoring performances against conference opponents. Nevada ranks second in the conference as a team from the free throw line at 77.6 percent.
The Wolf Pack also have held their own on the boards, pulling down 41.4 rebounds per game for fourth place in the conference. Opponents have imposed their will against Nevada at points this season, but the team’s recent defensive stretches can create some momentum heading into the conference tournament. Nevada ranks seventh in the conference in steals (126) and ninth in blocked shots (49) on the season.
With just two games left in the regular season, Nevada’s improved play of late can potentially land it a first-round bye in the Mountain West Tournament. Air Force has struggled mightily during the 2020-21 campaign. The Falcons are ninth in conference at 6-14 overall and 3-11 in conference play. Nevada can take advantage with its potent offensive attack and improved defensive intensity.
The Wolf Pack are playing some of their best basketball of the season against a struggling Air Force squad. With one win in the two-game series, Nevada can take full advantage of its seeding in the tournament and be a tough matchup for any conference opponent.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SagebrushSports.