Lady Rebels rattle Rams on road to sweep season series
A recent win to secure a conference regular season series sweep for the UNLV Lady Rebels extended their win streak to double-digits.
UNLV took the second of two regular season meetings against Colorado State, 63-58, Saturday, Jan. 21 from Moby Arena. This outcome was a far cry from the first meeting between these two programs on New Year’s Eve when the Lady Rebels beat the Rams, 91-88, in overtime.
“We knew coming into the game we wanted to play better defense,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “Then that’s just kind of how the game went. Offensively, they clogged the paint on us and forced us to do some different things.”
This matchup ended a short two-game road trip for UNLV as the program improved to 7-2 away from Las Vegas this season. In addition, the team continued its winning streak, extending it to a season-long 10 games.
Overall, the Lady Rebels are now 19-2 on the year and 9-0 in the Mountain West. The team’s conference mark is the best for the program since the 1992-93 season when it started 13-0. Moreover, La Rocque is now 60-18 through her first 78 career games as a head coach.
UNLV will now return home for one game before returning to the road for two more. In-state rival UNR will await the team upon entry back into Nevada.
The Lady Rebels will host the Wolf Pack Saturday, Jan. 28 with tip-off slated for 2 p.m. from the Cox Pavilion.
“The first thing we’re going to do is rest,” La Rocque said. “[We’ve played] seven games in 16 days, five of them on the road. We were in California for a week then came here which I think is the toughest road trip in the conference [having to] play Wyoming and Colorado State.”
Defense best told the second half story as UNLV was able to bear down when it mattered most, holding Colorado State without a point for the first 5:04 of the fourth quarter. That defensive effort helped counter the fact that the Lady Rebels were without a point for the first four minutes of the final quarter.
The Rams did not grab their first lead of the game until late in the first half but never trailed by more than nine points.
“I think the biggest thing is we continued to trust our defense,” La Rocque said. “I think sometimes when your shots aren’t falling or your offense isn’t as methodical as it is you can start to press on defense. But we stayed really disciplined.”
UNLV’s response was to hold Colorado State to just seven points through the first 6:11 of the third quarter. Ultimately, the Lady Rebels outscored the Rams, 27-25, in the second half on the way to victory.
Colorado State guard McKenna Hofschild was limited to 17 points on 18 field goal attempts with seven makes. In the Rams’ overtime loss to the Lady Rebels back in December, she accounted for 37 points on 10-of-15 from the field.
“We let people shoot that we were okay with shooting,” La Rocque said. “We weren’t going to let Hofschild beat us again by herself even though we won the first game.”
Hofschild scored her first points of the game four minutes after tip-off and reached double-figures in the second quarter on a bucket that tied the game at 29 apiece.
Senior guard Essence Booker had it going all night long beginning with seven first quarter points. By halftime, she had racked up 15 points including an and-one bucket that put the team up six a little over 30 seconds into the second quarter.
Booker scored 12 of the team’s last 15 points in UNLV’s last win over Wyoming.
“She’s just getting better and better each game – which, to be honest, is scary,” La Rocque said. “She’s got that look in her eyes, that a senior does, that she’s going to do whatever it takes.”
Booker ended the night with 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double.
Junior center Desi-Rae Young picked up her 10th double-double of the season, posting 11 points and 12 rebounds. Last season, she had 12 double-doubles and now has 27 total in her three-year collegiate career.
Booker and Young were the only two Lady Rebels in double-figures on the day.