March 2, 2022 - 9:29 pm
UNLV women’s basketball team season celebrated its regular-season Mountain West championship in front of a full Cox Pavilion Wednesday night. But it did so after a disappointing 71-64 loss to instate rival UNR
The Lady Rebels’ largest lead was only six points, which came in the first quarter. They were never able to pull away from the Wolf Pack, who responded every time they needed a basket.
Coach Lindy La Rocque has liked how her team has responded in big moments all season, but felt Wednesday night it was UNR that rose to the occasion.
“They had a couple of players who made some big shots and big plays,” La Rocque said. “And I just felt like we were really affected by that.”
The Wolf Pack scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to take a 54-47 lead. They led by as many as 12 points late in the fourth quarter.
UNLV led 34-32 at halftime behind 51.8 percent shooting and 12 first-half points from Desi-Rae Young. But Young was limited in the second half as UNR made it difficult for UNLV to run any offense through its center.
While UNR shot 50 percent from the field in the second half, La Rocque felt her team was a “step slow” offensively and that contributed to their struggles.
“Transition (offense) is a huge part of our game and we didn’t get there today, so it felt really stagnant in the half court,” La Rocque said.
The Wolf Pack held a 21-10 advantage in second-chance points and outrebounded the Lady Rebels, 40-30. La Rocque felt the second-chance points were the difference in the game. She said her team lacked the effort necessary to close the margins and keep pace with the Wolf Pack.
For UNLV, which fell to 23-5, 15-3 in conference play, Young and Alyssa Durazo-Frescas scored 14 apiece to lead the Lady Rebels. Essence Booker finished with 11 points, but she was held without a made field goal until the 1:59 mark in the fourth quarter.
Nina Alexander led the Wolf Pack, which improved to 19-10, 11-6 in the conference, with 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting.
La Rocque doesn’t anticipate that this loss to carry over to the Mountain West tournament. She cited this group’s togetherness as a reason they will be able to turn the page quickly
“It doesn’t take away from the fact that we won the regular season championship, which is really hard to do,” La Rocque said. “Have we dropped two of three? Yes, but I’m confident our team is going to respond the right way.”
UNLV will enter the conference tourney next week at the Thomas & Mack Center as the No. 1 seed. It will face the winner of Fresno State-Utah State in a quarterfinal matchup at 12 p.m. on March 7.