Booker sets new career-high as Lady Rebels thump Broncos by 22
A week off couldn’t slow down the red hot UNLV Lady Rebels as the program won its sixth game in its last seven outings.
UNLV beat the Boise State Broncos, 73-51, Thursday, Jan. 13 from the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
“[We got some] much needed rest that’s for sure,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “We took a couple of days to work on ourselves. To have some time in the middle of the season, it’s just really important to kind of sharpen some things up. We were able to put in some new sets, new defenses to keep our opponents off-balance.”
The two teams split the season series this year while Thursday’s win knotted the all-time series at 12.
Now, the Lady Rebels are now 12-4 on the year and 4-1 in the Mountain West. In addition, the program is 7-1 at home.
As of now, the team sits tied for second place in the Mountain West conference, a game behind first place.
“We just have to keep our focus really narrow,” La Rocque said. “On the job at hand, on the game, on the possession. Those results and records, all those things kind of take care of themselves if you keep [the focus] really narrow.”
A home date against the Utah State Aggies lies ahead next for UNLV. Game is set for Saturday, Jan. 15 from the Cox Pavilion.
Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The week layoff saw the Lady Rebels open the game with four turnovers in their first six possessions.
Junior guard Booker said the team was just too excited to start the game.
“It’s a little bit of whatever you want to call it,” La Rocque said. “I think we tried to come out with a really aggressive mentality sometimes [the team] can be a little too amped up. Then you really have to get the flow of the game and let the pregame jitters wear down and just play some basketball.
“I think if anything while we may not have looked great in the first two and a half minutes we also defended really well. So we made them not look so great too so we didn’t put ourselves in a hole really.”
Boise State was only able to build a a 2-0 lead during that time. The team was held to 4-of-22 shooting the first half.
On the other hand, UNLV regained its composure and went on a 11-2 run in the first to take a lead that would not be relinquished.
The dominance extended to the rebound category as well as the Broncos were held without a rebound for the first 5:22 of the game.
The Lady Rebels build a lead as large as 11 in the first quarter. It grew to 18 by the second, 22 by the third and 25 before the end of the game.
Booker scored a career-high 28 points on 6-of-15 from the field, going 14-of-14 from the free throw line.
“Honestly, I just feel like I’m my biggest critic,” she said. “I’m really hard on myself and [La Rocque] just gives me that relief I need to go out there and have fun and play free. And that’s what I need, I just need to have fun and I’m going to play well.”
Of the 16 first quarter points for UNLV, Booker had 13 of them. She scored 19 of her 28 in the first half.
“She’s just someone that’s continuing to work on her game,” La Rocque said. “[She’s] really trying to trust what we’re telling her and trying to do that and not think too much. Today, it was about being aggressive and attacking the basket – that’s probably the best thing she does.”
Also in that first quarter, referees called 14 combined fouls on the two teams. By halftime, there were 29 total fouls.
Midway through the second quarter, the Lady Rebels had four players with two fouls including sophomore center Desi-Rae Young.
“There were a lot of stoppages,” La Rocque said. “The refs have a tough job. You know, we sit there and watch and think it’s really easy. They have to make calls and judgment decisions in split seconds. They’re human and they make mistakes, they’re just like anyone else.
“I guess maybe the good thing was they were consistent. Sometimes you can be in a game where they call a lot of fouls in the first half and then they call nothing and then it’s a blood bath in the second half.”
Young played a good majority of the fourth quarter with four fouls before fouling out with 10 points.
EDITOR’S NOTE: After missing four games due to COVID related reasons, sophomore guard Jade Thomas returned to the team.
“Yeah, we’ve been one man short,” Booker said. “Jade Thomas coming back is huge for us. We feel like everyone off-the-bench helps us tremendously, they give us big minutes, big energy and I feel like it was the great push that we needed today.”