The Mountain West tournament started on Sunday, March 6. Nevada was the fourth seed in the tournament. The Wolf Pack placed low enough to where they had a first round bye but they still had a tough second day match up against fifth seeded Air Force. Nevada had swept Air Force in the regular season but the Wolf Pack were without one of their top players, senior Nia Alexander.
Nevada did not play their best game and it cost them against Air Force. Nevada’s three remaining seniors had themselves good games. Senior guard Da’Ja Hamilton finished with a game high 23 points, two rebounds, and one assist. She shot 3-6 from three and 6-7 from the free throw line but overall she went a less than efficient 7-23 from the field. Senior guard Amaya West had a great performance as she ended with 15 points and a team high seven rebounds while shooting a strong 7-12 on field goals. Senior guard Kylie Jimenez continues to do everything on the court and fill up the stat sheet. She had eight points, a team high seven rebounds, a team high four assists, two blocks, and one steal.
Another bright spot in the starting five was sophomore forward Lexie Givens. She ended with a solid six points and three rebounds going 2-3 from the field. The bench played good but there were no huge performances to create a spark for Nevada. The bench was led by Freshman Audrey Roden who finished with four points and five rebounds on 2-3 shooting from the field.
The first quarter started out very competitive as both teams traded baskets. Hamilton opened the game up for Nevada with a nice three pointer. Nevada struggled on offense but luckily they were playing tough defense in the first. West ended the drought with a layup to pull the Wolf Pack within one point. Nevada was down 6-5 with six minutes to go in the quarter. Roden added a layup but this was not enough as Air Force went on a 10-0 run. West connected on a jumper with a minute left. Nevada was down 19-9 at the end of the first quarter.
The Wolf Pack came out strong to start the second quarter as they went on a 6-0 run of their own. West, Kylie Jimenez, and Givens all had layups as Nevada began to attack the basket. This group, although seeing success on the floor, was subbed out. Air Force shortly after scored three straight buckets before Hamilton responded with a layup. Nevada was down 26-17 with five minutes left in the second quarter. Unfortunately, Air Force was blazing hot and they knocked down four more threes in the quarter. West hit on another jumper but the damage was done Nevada went into the locker room down 37-19.
West opened up the second half with a three pointer and Kylie Jimenez followed it up with a jumper. Nevada still was unable to slow down the Air Force offense but they were responding with offense of their own to keep themselves in the game. Givens made a layup, Hamilton made a layup, and Kylie Jimenez splashed a jumper. Hamilton knocked down two free throws and then freshman Natalie Lathrop finished a layup of her own. The score was 47-34 with two minutes left in the quarter. Nevada was successful in closing out the quarter as Givens hit two free throws and Hamilton had another layup. The Wolf Pack battled back to close the gap and they were now losing 47-38 to end the third.
However, this was short lived as the Air Force offense found their rhythm again. The Nevada defense could not get it together and they surrendered a 9-2 run to begin the fourth quarter. Nevada tried to claw back into the game as Hamilton hit a jumper, sophomore guard Kenna Holt finished a layup, and Kylie Jimenez added a layup of her own. Nevada was down 60-46 with just under five minutes to go in the game. West made a layup and Hamilton got red hot as she added two three pointers and four free throws but it was too little too late. The Wolf Pack continued to be unsuccessful in stopping Air Force and simply did not hit enough shots. Nevada lost the game 75-60.
Nevada had a great regular season as they finished with a record of 19-11. This was a tough game as they did not shoot well and Air Force shot the lights out going 50 percent from the field and 56 percent from behind the arc. This senior led team achieved a lot of accolades. Hamilton and Alexander reached the 1000 point milestone this season. West reached the 500 point club and Kylie Jimenez led the nation for stretches this season in assist to turnover ratio. The Wolf Pack were quickly bounced from the Mountain West tournament but they had a great year.
Anthony Miranda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush