The Nevada Wolf Pack women’s basketball team experienced some growing pains Wednesday night in a non-conference game against Utah at Lawlor Events Center.
Fresh off a near NCAA Tournament appearance last season, Nevada’s 74-52 loss revealed several holes that must be fixed as the season progresses. The Wolf Pack shot 38.2 percent from the field and had more turnovers (22) than field goals made (19).
“We have a lot to learn,” said coach Amanda Levens, who played five freshmen in the game. “I thought some of our new players were a little bit overwhelmed in the moment and forced some plays that turned into mistakes.”
Levens featured 10 players and five different lineups rotated around junior guard Camariah King and senior forward Terae Briggs, but the same result ensued. Seniors Jade Redmon and Briggs combined for 21 points and seven rebounds.
“We have a lot to work on,” Levens said. “And every game we just need to get a little bit better, that way we’re playing our best basketball by the end of the season.
Briggs shared her perspective from the floor.
“We’re just learning how to play together,” she said. “It was a step in the right direction and we’re going to have to keep fighting.
Utah bullied Nevada’s undersized roster in the paint all game. The Utes also shot 82.7 percent from the free-throw line, outrebounded the Pack 49-31 and tacked on 22 second-chance points in the process. Dre’Una Edwards scored a game-high 16 points and had 15 rebounds.
“In a great conference, they make you pay,” Levens said. “I can blow my whistle in practice but I have very little control when it happens in a game. And those situations put a lot of pressure on our defense.”
Despite its offensive struggles, Nevada had two 9-0 runs — one it each half — to cut the deficits to two points each time. Freshman guard Da’Ja Hamilton was a spark plug off the bench with nine points and one steal.
“I was proud of our fight,” Levens said. “Our team really hung in there at times and battled back from double digits. But every time we got close, we shot ourselves in the foot.”
The Utes outscored the Wolf Pack 38-23 in the second half. Their lead hit the 20-point mark with 2:48 remaining. Nevada tallied just eight points in the fourth.
The Wolf Pack travels to Santa Clara Nov. 10. The Broncos finished 11-20 overall and 8-10 in the West Coast Conference last season. Nevada opens Mountain West play on Jan. 2 at Utah State.
Notes: Five freshmen played for the Wolf Pack, including Hamilton, who made five of six free throws. … Nevada held Utah to four of 17 from the three-point line.
— Isaiah Burrows