RENO, Nev. -- Dellena Criner scored 25 points, and Nevada upset Louisville (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) 85-82 on Saturday night in the championship game of the Nugget Classic for the school's first victory over a top-10 team.
The lead changed hands nine times and the game was tied six times in the second half. Criner scored six points in a flurry that gave Nevada a 72-70 lead with 3:30 to play. Her two free throws with 11.8 seconds left gave Nevada (4-3) an 84-78 lead and secured the victory."This is why you coach," first-year Nevada coach Jane Albright said. "This is why they play the game. This is for all the players and everybody that believed in me and brought me here."Criner put it even more succinctly."It is the biggest win I've ever been a part of," she said. "It's an amazing feeling."Angel McCoughtry scored a game-high 34 points for Louisville (5-1), and became the first women's player in school history with 2,000 career points. She scored her 2,000th point on a layup with just under nine minutes to play that tied the game at 61-61.She is also first Louisville player, men's or women's, to score at least 2,000 points and pull down at least 1,000 rebounds.Louisville opened a 24-13 lead, but had to settle for a 36-33 halftime advantage after McCoughtry sat out all but the final second of the last 10 minutes because of fouls.The decision by Louisville coach Jeff Walz to put the team's best player on the bench for so many minutes allowed Nevada to get back in it."It's one where you look back on, I probably from now on have to keep her in the game in that situation," Walz said.