One win streak had to end when the UNLV Lady Rebels and Wyoming Cowgirls as two of the top teams in the conference met for the second time this season.
UNLV got the better of Wyoming, 71-57, from the Arena Auditorium Thursday, Jan. 19 in order to extend their season-long win streak to nine games. In the process, the Lady Rebels ended the five-game win streak of the Cowgirls.
Prior to this finish, the last three meetings between the two programs had been decided by six points or less.
“I think a lot of our philosophies are fairly similar,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “It’s a great team, a great program and we’re really excited about getting this road win.”
UNLV is now 8-18 all-time in Laramie after losing the last eight against Wyoming. Before this finish, the last time the team won was in 2011-12 when La Rocque was still a senior in college.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Lady Rebels as they will pack up and head to Colorado State to take on the Rams. That contest is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21 with tip-off slated for 12 p.m.
UNLV beat Colorado State from the Cox Pavilion in overtime by three points on New Year’s Eve.
“A team that’s playing really, really well,” La Rocque said. “We know they’re going to have a chip on their shoulder with how the last game went but so is our team. We’re going to celebrate this Wyoming win but then we’re going to turn the page quickly to prepare for a Colorado State [team] that’s frankly on fire.”
Senior guard Essence Booker finished with 20 points on 8-of-15 from the field. She scored 12 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter ensuring a UNLV win.
With Wyoming on the comeback trail having hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 11, Booker came down and pushed it back to 13 points on a pullup jumper. Moments later, she did it again after the lead had been trimmed to single-digits.
“Essence is our point guard – I trust her,” La Rocque said. “The ball has to be in her hands, to be honest, regardless of how she’s done in the game or what’s been going on lately. I just trust her, and our team trusts her, to make the right play.”
Booker shut the door by nailing back-to-back mid-range jumpshots to go up double-digits each time in the closing minutes. She scored 12 of the team’s final 15 points of the game. Last year, she scored the eight of the last nine points in the Lady Rebels’ lone regular season win against the Cowgirls.
Sophomore forward Alyssa Brown hit the dagger when she splashed a three-pointer to put the team up 14 points with under a minute left. She ended the night with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Brown and Booker combined to score the team’s final 17 points on the way to the win.
Wyoming scored its first 12 points of the game in the paint, outscoring UNLV, 12-4. Junior center Desi-Rae Young picked up two first quarter fouls and was sent to the bench.
“The first couple of minutes, we didn’t play great defensively,” La Rocque said. “We gave up 12 points in those first few minutes and then held them to low scoring from then-on-out.”
La Rocque opted to leave Young there through the remainder of halftime as both the Lady Rebels and Cowgirls were locked in a defense-filled second quarter.
“I thought our team did a heck of a job,” La Rocque said. “I think it helped us being in our zone defense.”
Despite UNLV going scoreless for nearly four minutes at one point, it held Wyoming without a point for the first 3:20 of the quarter. The Lady Rebels won the second quarter, 10-8.
When Young returned to the floor to open the second half, things changed for the better for UNLV. She reached double-digit points in that frame while helping the Lady Rebels extend a four-point halftime lead to as many as 17 points.
Young finished with 15 points on 50% shooting and five rebounds while battling foul trouble.