Durazo-Frescas bails out UNLV as program wins 14th straight
UNLV avoided perhaps the biggest upset of the year as it escaped the Cox Pavilion with a one-point victory over conference foe Fresno State.
The Lady Rebels beat the Bulldogs, 64-63, Thursday, Feb. 9 from the campus of UNLV to avoid a loss to the last-place team in the Mountain West.
“It’s that part of the season,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “There’s less than 10 games left and people are playing with sometimes reckless abandon. And that’s kind of easier to do when you have nothing to lose.”
UNLV has now won six straight meetings against Fresno State with La Rocque going undefeated thus far in her tenure as the Lady Rebels lead woman.
Additionally, beating the Bulldogs means the Lady Rebels’ season-long win streak has now hit 14 straight wins. Moreover, the team improved to 14-0 at home this season. In her three years as head coach, La Rocque is 36-12 in games from her home venue, including going 30-3 in the last two seasons.
Next, UNLV will be leaving Las Vegas for a pit stop road trip in Boise State. It will be the first time the program has left the friendly confines of the Cox Pavilion for a single game.
“This is a great game for us [in] Fresno State,” La Rocque said. “We’re going to learn a lot of lessons that you would probably learn if you would’ve lost the game because that’s what our locker room felt like for sure.”
That game will be played Saturday, Feb. 11 from the ExtraMile Arena with tip-off slated for 1 p.m.
As of now, the Lady Rebels are 23-2 overall on the year and are 13-0 in the Mountain West, good for first place.
UNLV had to be bailed out via a last-second corner three-point basket from sophomore guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas. It came off a paint assist from junior center Desi-Rae Young who had just received the inbounds pass from senior guard Essence Booker. “I knew she had it,” Young said. “I have trust in my teammates, especially Alyssa, I think she’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever played with. I knew they were going to double team me and they were going to leave her so I just had to make that extra pass – and Essence made the right pass and that was her hockey assist.”
Following the game, La Rocque admitted that the play resulting in the game-winning bucket was not originally drawn up that way.
Prior to that game-winning basket from Durazo-Frescas, UNLV had been held to just 1-of-11 on three-point shots. Durazo-Frescas accounted for both of the team’s made threes on the night.
“Early, I thought we had some great looks,” La Rocque said. “That’s just kind of how it goes a little bit. Obviously, we shot really, really well last weekend so maybe it was a little bit of par for the course.”
Durazo-Frescas was also responsible for an and-one basket despite missing the free throw as part of her eight-point, two-rebound night.
The game featured 23 lead changes and 18 ties including five lead changes in the final 5:08 of regulation.
Young led the team in scoring, shouldering most of the load with 22 points on a very efficient 8-of-10 from the field. She also added seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
Young didn’t miss her first shot of the game until the 1:31-mark of the first quarter after cashing on her first three attempts. After the first 10 minutes of play, Young tallied nine points on 4-of-5 from the floor.
“I thought we didn’t get her the ball enough,” La Rocque said. “We tried to go with some high-low stuff and our guards were just having a little bit of a tough time handling the ball in some of the ball-screen stuff that normally kind of works for us.”
Between the close of the first quarter and start of the second, UNLV went on a run that saw the team score 12 straight points in the paint on the way to a 40-24 advantage by the end of the night.
“Scoring in the paint is what we want to do,” Young said. “Whether it’s the bigs, whether it’s the guards, we want to get to the free throw line, we want to be super aggressive.”
Even after the blitzing run by the Lady Rebels, the Bulldogs battled back to take a second quarter lead after not leading since 5-3 in the opening frame. Despite shooting less than 40% from the field on the year and 30% from beyond the arc, Fresno State fired off 45% and 38% from the respective areas in this one.
“We have to kind of focus in on getting the job done and being really connected,” La Rocque said. “They shot it a little bit better but I think early on we let them get too open of shots. We had some missed defensive assignments.”
UNLV faced more trouble in the third quarter after going scoreless for more than four minutes to close the quarter. At the conclusion of the period, the home team led by just a point heading into the final 10-minutes of action.
A defensive switch to a modified 2-3 zone frustrated Fresno State to the tune of zero points for just about three minutes as UNLV regained control of the game before that game-winning bucket from Durazo-Frescas.