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Lady Rebels lose heartbreaker to Lady Mavs on day one of Thanksgiving Classic

Day one of the UNLV Thanksgiving Classic saw the host school lose a one-possession game.


The Lady Rebels were ousted by the UT-Arlington Lady Mavs, 75-72, from the Cox Pavilion.


“Well obviously that stings,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “A great opponent in UTA -- we knew that coming in. We knew that Starr Jacobs was going to be a handful and she was. Obviously it stings a little bit because we felt like we had it kind of right in our hands.”


It’s just the second loss in the first five games of the season for UNLV.


The team will hop right back into action Sunday, Nov. 28 against the Grambling State Tigers.


One noticeable difference was the absence of sophomore center Desi-Rae Young in the starting lineup for UNLV.


“That’s just a team thing that we had to figure out and handle with Desi,” La Rocque said. “But that doesn’t change her importance to our team and how much we needed her today and how much we need her every game so we’re past it.”


Young was more candid about the reasoning behind her benching.


“I was late [to practice],” she said. “So I knew there was going to have to be a decision made and that was the decision to choose. There’s nothing against me starting or not starting because I know my team is going to get it done with or without me in the game.”


Over the last couple of games, Young has had issues compiling fouls in the first quarter.


Despite not starting this time around, she still picked up two fouls in her first three minutes on the floor.


“Desi’s a young player still,” La Rocque said. “And she’s still learning and she knows we need her out there so I’m confident that she’ll continue to just make some adjustments. Obviously, she’s not out there trying to foul.”


Young found her rhythm in the second quarter, leading back-to-back plays to cut the deficit from 10 to five.


She also helped engineer a 10-0 run that ultimately left the game knotted at 28 apiece.


Moments later, Young added the go-ahead layup for the Lady Rebels in a second quarter that UNLV won 24-10.


“Desi’s our anchor down there,” La Rocque said. “She’s proven that and we have to rely on that so we need a bucket, when we need momentum, when we need energy, we know we can go to her and she’s going to come through for us. She’s not perfect and no one is but when it comes to betting your chips on the line, I’ll take Desi over anyone else in the country frankly.”


Young finished with 19 points on 8-of-14 from the field to go along with four rebounds and a steal.


She also added two clutch baskets back-to-back in the fourth to keep UNLV in it.


At the start of the second half, Young started in place of sophomore forward Nneka Obiazor.


Early in the third quarter, both women had accounted for 21 of the Lady Rebels’ 44 points.


Obiazor closed the third quarter strong on both ends of the floor, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-12 from the floor.


“I just think Nneka brings a lot of energy,” Young said. “She’s really tough, big bodied. She’s an undersized post player but she plays like she’s 6’3”. She wants to be in there, she wants to bully, she wants to do everything she can to score and get us up.”


For the majority of the game, UNLV held the advantage in terms of fouls.


“It’s never about the refs,” La Rocque said. “You never want them to be a part of the game and they weren’t. Our team has to be able to make some adjustments and a lot of times the more aggressive team gets those calls and frankly they were more aggressive down the line.


“A foul is what the ref calls and we have to remember that.”


Near the end of the third quarter, UT-Arlington had committed 10 fouls to the home team’s four.


In the first four-plus of the fourth quarter, the Lady Rebels had committed five fouls.


The Lady Mavs had 14 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter, but nine came before the late-game intentional fouls.


Both teams were whistled for a combined 30 fouls, Lady Rebels claimed 14 of them.

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