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Lady Rebels return home with rout of Aggies to open conference play

After a week-long East Coast trip that produced the team’s first loss of the season, the UNLV Lady Rebels returned to the friendly confines of the Las Vegas Valley with a win to open conference play.


UNLV thrashed Utah State, 107-68, Saturday, Dec. 30 from the Cox Pavilion. The program has now won 13 straight games against the Aggies with current head coach Lindy La Rocque sporting an undefeated record. In 35 total meetings, the Lady Rebs have claimed 31.


It was the team’s first home game since early December but it was the club’s first contest inside the Cox Pavilion in more than a month. In addition, it was the team’s first home outing since the tragic events on the UNLV campus on Dec. 6. As a result, each player on the team donned “UNLV Strong” patches on the right shoulder of their jersey.


The win moves the Lady Rebels to 11-1 overall on the season before moving onto their first Mountain West road game of the year. UNLV will travel to Colorado State for a conference test Saturday, Jan. 6. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.


“We have a couple of days to continue to improve and work on us,” La Rocque said. “Which is precious time in the middle of the year so we’re going to focus on that first. Midweek we’re going to turn our attention to Colorado State.”


Production off turnovers told the story for the Lady Rebels to capture their first conference win of the season. The team turned the Aggies over 21 times on the way to 41 points the other way.


UNLV took control of the game in the early going behind a 16-0 run before eventually going up by 27 points in the first half. The lead would grow to as large as 42 points by the final buzzer.


“We knew opening conference we wanted to make a statement for ourselves and the rest of the conference,” La Rocque said. “For ourselves and for the rest of the conference that we’re here, we’re ready to play, we’re better than ever and we’re going to stay disciplined and do the right things.”


While the defense was stout, the offense was crisp as well with the team not committing its first turnover until the 3:06-mark of the second quarter. Junior guard Kiara Jackson paced the offense to help the team dish out six assists on its first seven makes on the way to 21 assists versus just five turnovers.


“She is just so calm, cool and collected,” La Rocque said. “She’s rather emotionless, good and bad sometimes but she’s steady. She’s confident in our coaching staff and our gameplan and then she’s confident in herself and her teammates.”


Jackson tied a career-high nine assists to just one turnover to go along with four points.


Senior Desi-Rae Young came up one point shy of tying her career-high in scoring, finishing with 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting while compiling nine rebounds. Twenty-one of those points came in the first quarter.


Young also led all players with 11 drawn fouls on the day while continuing to stay a matchup nightmare for Utah State. She helped UNLV win the points in the paint battle, 48-16.


“That’s what we do best,” she said. “That’s how we want to play, we want to push it in the paint. If it's the post [players] scoring, the guards scoring, offensive rebounds and then also it helps our kickouts to our guards for threes and things like that.”


Fifth-year guard Ashley Scoggin was the only other starter in double-figures with 11 points including two early three-pointers in the first quarter.


Sophomore guard Jasmyn Lott contributed 14 points off-the-bench in more minutes played due to a right foot/ankle injury to junior guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas.


“I think we’re all well-prepared to come in and play,” Young said. “Any one of us can do anything, everyone always keys in on me but little do they know Nneka has this [junior forward Alyssa Brown] has this, Liz has this, Key has this, it’s not just one person that gets the job done. It’s literally all of us combined.”


Late in the second quarter, Durazo-Frescas went down clutching at her right lower leg. Soon after, she’d be lifted by UNLV medical staff to the back to be examined. She’d later return to the bench with her right foot heavily taped and then after halftime she’d sport a walking boot.


There was no clear update given on the diagnosis for Durazo-Frescas’ injury.


Senior forward Nneka Obiazor briefly left the game in the second half after taking a blow to the nose resulting in blood. She left the floor late in the third quarter but would return to the floor about a quarter later.


Junior guard Kenadee Winfrey (knee) hasn’t played since the team’s second contest of the season.

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