Dominant victory over New Mexico pushes UNLV to 6-0 in Mountain West play
The win streak for the UNLV Lady Rebels tied a season-high seven straight games after a big win over a conference foe on national television.
UNLV beat New Mexico, 79-63, Saturday, Jan. 14 from the Cox Pavilion to stay undefeated in Mountain West play. These two programs split both regular season meetings last year.
“We were focused on the task at hand,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “Which was executing and beating New Mexico and playing well. I’m glad we did that because there were other pieces to this game of being on national tv and having a bigger audience to show who we are. A big by-product of that is us doing our jobs.”
The streak is now up to seven games for the Lady Rebels as the team improved to 16-2 on the year. As it stands, the team still sits in first place in the Mountain West with a perfect 6-0 record. The next closest team is the San Diego State Aztecs with an 14-4 overall record and 4-1 mark in the conference. Their lone loss came at the hands of UNLV.
Up next, the Lady Rebels will host the Boise State Broncos Monday, Jan. 16 with tip-off slated for 8 p.m. It will be Las Vegas Aces night where the program and fans in attendance will celebrate the team’s championship run in the WNBA. “The intention is to celebrate women playing basketball and empowering each other at the highest level,” La Rocque said. “They supported us even last year, we supported them through, obviously their championship run and so we want to continue to come together to celebrate our success because I think that’s how you continue it and sustain it.”
On the way to the big win against New Mexico, UNLV rode junior center Desi-Rae Young on both ends of the floor.
Young scored nine of the team’s 20 points in the first quarter on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field. In fact, she was perfect from the field in the first half, wrapping up her eighth double-double of the season. Through 20 minutes of play, she recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds on 6-of-6 shooting.
“She’s our anchor,” sophomore guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas said. “We know that, our coaching staff knows that, she’s averaging a double-double – she’s the best big I’ve ever played with, she moves like a guard.”
Young didn’t miss until the 4:23-mark of the third quarter on the way to a team-high 22 points on 9-for-13 from the floor and 16 rebounds. Her performance helped the Lady Rebels out-rebounded the Lobos, 40-25.
“It’s always important,” Young said. “Even without the size advantage, boxing out and allowing our guards to go get it is a huge part of a game – gang rebounding.”
On the defensive end, Young helped anchor a charge that held New Mexico to 38% shooting while UNLV countered with 53% on the other end. In addition, Young helped hold Lobos forward Shaiquel McGruder scoreless. Over the last two games, McGruder averaged 22 points per game including 27 points in the last outing.
“McGruder’s been a veteran player for them,” La Rocque said. “And frankly, she’s killed us in years past. [Desi and Shaiquel] know each other really well. I think our team did a really good job but Desi in particular guarding her.”
A 10-point halftime lead was pushed to 21 on an 11-0 Lady Rebel run right out of the locker room highlighted by a flurry of three-pointers.
“During halftime, Lindy told us to put [the Lobos] away,” Durazo-Frescas said. “And that’s what we did. I think we take everything she says to heart.”
Durazo-Frescas scored 17 of her 20 points in the second half including four third quarter-threes on her way to six for the game. As a team, UNLV shot 45% from deep.
Coming into the game, Durazo-Frescas was shooting 25% from three after posting a 44%-mark from deep during her freshman season.
“I believe in her with every ounce of my being,” La Rocque said. “Every time she shoots it, I think it’s going in and it’s been that way all year. This is a different team and all of [the players] have had to find out different roles and how they bring it – maybe that had clouded a little bit of Frescas’ headspace.
“To be honest, I think what really helped her was we watched some clips from our game last year and she made some big time shots. I was watching it like, ‘Where the heck has that kid been?’ And I think she thought the same. She was like, ‘She hasn’t changed at all, she just has to shoot the ball with confidence.’”
Senior guard Essence Booker added 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting.