RENO, Nev. — Behind a career-high 27 points from sophomore guard Mindy Nielson, BYU powered to an 81-63 win over the Nevada Wolfpack in Reno on Tuesday for its first win in the 2008-09 campaign.

"This is a great win for us," said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. "We came out with a lot of energy, and the first eight minutes were the best eight minutes of game I've seen this team play."

Led by Nielson and fellow guard Jazmine Foreman, the Cougars got off to a quick start, leading 17-8 at the 12:44 mark. Forward Kelani Moeaki scored 14 points and had three rebounds, senior center Cassie King had 11 points and nine boards. BYU was also strong behind the 3-point arc, going 8-for-17 (47 percent). In all, five Cougars scored in double figures.

"We did a good job pushing the ball as well," said Judkins. "It was as a total team effort."

Nielson led all scorers and powered the Cougar offensive attack throughout the game. BYU shot 44 percent from the field and went 9-10 from the free-throw line.

Portland matched the Cougars for much of the second half but wasn't able to overcome 31 percent shooting in the first half, which ended with BYU leading 48-31. The Cougars built the lead on 17-for-29 (58 percent) shooting in the first 20 minutes.

Senior guard Criner Dellena lead the Wolfpack with 20 points in 32 minutes, and forward Franklin Cherlanda had a team-high seven rebounds.\