The Battle for Nevada took a swing toward the red as the UNLV Lady Rebels topped the Nevada Wolf Pack 62-57 at the Cox Pavilion Saturday, Jan. 30 for its third straight win.
Guard Bailey Thomas sank four consecutive free throws in the closing minute to give UNLV the confidence-boosting win as the team continues to climb the standings in the Mountain West conference.
"Game one of the Silver State Series, what a gritty win,” UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “Really proud of our team, we showed a lot of toughness, we didn't play well on offense but we found a way to win.”
The Lady Rebels are now 8-6 on the season and 6-3 in the Mountain West conference.
It was a game of runs on both sides in game one of the two-game series.
UNR responded to UNLV’s early lead by knocking down four triples in the opening quarter. The Wolf Pack came into the contest averaging a mere three and a half made three-pointers per game.
The Lady Rebels, however, stayed true to who they were playing sound defense and rebounding the ball when it mattered most.
Even if the offense was behind, the team’s energy helped recover from the offensive woes.
Thomas’ veteran presence on the team showed as down the stretch, the offense was running through her and fellow backcourt mate Nia Johnson, who had an efficient 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field including 6-of-11 from distance.
“Obviously Nia Johnson had a great game, when it felt like someone wasn't making their shots, there she was and we needed all 28 of her points. Bailey Thomas had another great night,” La Rocque said.
The game was the first of two between the two long-time rival schools.
“It's a great win,” La Rocque said. “We know what this series means to them and know they are going to come into Monday looking to earn a split, so we need to come out knowing that we have to play better as well.”
The Lady Rebels will look to go for the sweep against the Wolf Pack at 1 p.m. from the Cox Pavilion Monday, Feb. 1.