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Lady Rebels close Mountain West play with 60-point smacking of Aggies

The recent domination of Utah State continued for UNLV most recently but a 60-point walloping win stole the show ahead of the Mountain West Championship.


As the regular season drew to a close, the Lady Rebels picked up a 12th straight win, beating the Aggies, 104-44, Tuesday, March 5 from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. That marked the 14th straight win for the program over Utah State.


“All year long we just want to keep getting better,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “The last couple of games I feel like we’ve improved. You’ve got people clicking and playing well at the right time which is all we can ask for. We feel good, we’ve got some momentum heading into the conference tournament and we like that.”


Already set to enter the conference tournament as the league’s top seed, UNLV closes Mountain West regular season play with a 17-1 record to go along with a 27-2 overall record. Moreover, the current 23rd ranked team in the nation will presumably start the MWC as a ranked team after posting a 6-2 record as a ranked program this season.


Sunday, March 10 marks the start of this year’s Mountain West Championships as the Lady Rebels are slated to start play Monday after earning a bye through the first round of the conference tournament.


The team will play the winner of the Fresno State Bulldogs and Air Force Falcons.


“We’ve got some extra days to play with here,” La Rocque said. “We’ll practice having a couple more days off and be really mentally and physically sharp and ready to go for the conference tournament.”


Jabs in the early going of UNLV’s most recent win turned into a knockout blow before even reaching halftime. The team darted out to two separate 8-0 runs in the game’s opening quarter.


Those early runs were the precursor to a 19-0 second quarter run by the Lady Rebels that really turned the game on its ear for good. That pushed the 10-point first quarter lead to 35 minutes just before halftime.


“It just took us some time to settle in and really lock in defensively,” La Rocque said. Our defense obviously gets our offense going especially in transition.”


Things continued to snowball for Utah State as the team really hit near rock bottom following a 13-0 run by UNLV to close the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the three-time defending conference regular season champs would lead by as many as 63 points in the historic win.


While the second quarter was near perfect for the Lady Rebels, it was the team’s defense that really sealed the game. Despite going on that huge scoring run, the program held the Aggies without a made field goal on 11 tries during the 10-minute session. More than seven of those minutes were completely scoreless for the home team.


Overall, Utah State was held to just 4-for-24 shooting in the first half.


“At the timeouts and stuff we’re not talking about that,” La Rocque said. “To be honest, it wasn’t really until I got that stat sheet at halftime and looked at the box score to realize that they only scored three points in the whole quarter and they were all free throws.”


Defense came in many forms for this versatile UNLV group who racked up 10 steals and won the rebounding battle by 29.


By the end of the third quarter, everybody in uniform had scored for La Rocque’s group with six finishing in double-figures.


Senior forward Nneka Obiazor led the team with 16 points on a very efficient 6-of-9 from the field. Her effort in part helped the Lady Rebels outscore the Aggies, 52-16, in the paint.


Fellow reserve players Amarachi Kimpson and McKinna Brackens each added 14 points apiece as the UNLV bench accounted for 57 of the team’s 104 points. As a result of the stellar bench play, many UNLV starters were able to rest much of the second half with no one playing more than junior guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas’ 29 minutes.


“We talked, especially in the second half, that regardless of the score this is better than anything we could do in practice,” La Rocque said. “And it beats practicing. We wanted to keep doing the right thing, it was great to get everyone in the game – everyone scored. We really spread out the minutes, at this time of the year, I don’t really think you can rest too much.”


Senior center Desi-Rae Young led the scoring for the starters with 11 points of her own along with 11 from starting guard Kiara Jackson. Fifth-year guard Ashley Scoggin was the final player in double-figures with 10 points and two made threes.


As a team, UNLV shot 62% from the field including nine made threes. The 100-plus point finish goes down as the second straight for the program while tallying its 13th game with at least 90 points.

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