Lady Rebels rely on defense for ninth straight win
Keep winning and the rest will take care of itself, that’s been the message from UNLV Lady Rebel head coach Lindy La Rocque.
The team’s latest win helped the program sweep the Boise State Broncos for the first time since 2013 after its last outing.
UNLV beat Boise State, 69-52, Wednesday, Feb. 9 from ExtraMile Arena in Idaho to add to a now nine-game win streak.
“I wouldn’t discredit Boise State at all,” La Rocque said. “[The Broncos] play really, really well at home. I think all of their conference wins have been at home. They’re almost a totally different team at home.”
In both games this season, UNLV bested Boise State by an average of 19.5 points per game.
Another road win runs the team’s record away from the Cox Pavilion to 9-2.
Overall, the Lady Rebels are now 19-4 and 11-1 in the conference; sitting atop the Mountain West standings.
“The good thing is [focusing on winning] has been our focus even before we were in the driver’s seat,” La Rocque said. “We have to take care of business one game at a time and frankly, handle our own business and not always worry about who we’re playing.”
The team will return home now for three straight home games beginning with the San Diego State Aztecs Saturday, Feb. 12 from the Cox Pavilion.
Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
For the second straight game, UNLV was stalled by a slow first quarter on the offensive end.
For more than seven minutes of the 10-minute first quarter, the Lady Rebels went scoreless.
During that time, the Broncos built a lead as large as 11 points, before going into the second quarter up nine.
“Our defense, honestly, was pretty good throughout the whole game,” La Rocque said. “It just feels like it’s not so good when our offense isn’t scoring. We felt that in the first quarter, especially.”
To open the second quarter, UNLV went on a 9-2 run before eventually tying the game at 22.
The Lady Rebels went into halftime down three points after going scoreless the last three minutes of the half.
It wasn’t until the 3:49-mark of the third quarter that UNLV got its first lead since 2-0 to open the game.
Similar to the first quarter, there was a scoring drought of more than half the third quarter but it was on behalf of Boise State.
The UNLV defense held the home team scoreless for five-plus minutes amidst a 17-0 run that would turn into a 20-4 run to end the frame.
Sophomore forward Desi-Rae Young battled through foul trouble to wind up leading the team in scoring.
“Well in  minutes, almost a double-double,” La Rocque highlighted. “Some of those foul calls are a little bit out of her control. To her credit, she just kept playing and staying positive.
“Desi will do anything and everything we absolutely ask of her. And if it means being on the bench, being the best cheerleader; she can do that too.”
Young was saddled with two fouls in her first three minutes of action.
More than halfway through the second quarter, she began to find her rhythm; with six points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.
She made the layup in the third quarter that gave UNLV its first lead since the opening minute of the game.
Young finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes of action while playing the last 7:55 of the game with four fouls.
Whenever Young was out of the game, she was relieved by sophomore forward Nneka Obiazor, who ended the night with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Junior guard Essence Booker had another slow start to this game, opening 0-for-8 from the floor with zero points.
“Essence is our point guard and she’s a tremendous leader,” La Rocque said. “Regardless if she’s scoring, she has to be out there. And we have to have her out there because she does so many other things even that aren’t on the stat sheet.”
During this two-game road trip, Booker has combined to shoot 7-for-32 from the field.
She would end this game with 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
Freshman guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas also added 11 points with three made three-pointers.
As a team, UNLV shot 49% from the field while holding Boise State to 34%. In addition, the Lady Rebels held the Broncos to 20% from deep while shooting at a 31% clip.