For the fifth time in as many tries, the UNLV Lady Rebels have found victory to start this 2022-23 season. Friday, Nov. 25’s game against Albany to open the UNLV Thanksgiving Tournament was no different as UNLV cruised to a 78-55 win over the Great Danes.
“We know we got three games in three days and this first game really matters,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “It sets the tone for how you’re going to feel going into the next game. I thought we were well prepared; our scout was great. I thought our team did an excellent job executing it and they were aggressive. We needed that to start the momentum and now we’ve got to carry it forward.”
Junior forward Nneka Obiazor led the way for the Lady Rebels with her third career double-double and first this season. She finished the day with 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds which included 7 offensive boards.
“Honestly, after my teammates shooting, just rebounding the ball and just making sure that I eye the ball down and get my rebounds,” Obiazor said.
Obiazor had 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half alone.
“Nneka was aggressive,” La Rocque said. “We figured we might have an advantage inside, and she got some of those touches and was able to finish. I thought she was playing really hard. We got out in transition and got some easy looks so [we were] really proud of Nneka.”
UNLV was hustling all over the court as they outrebounded Albany 42-30 and beat them in second chance points 23-4.
“It was really crucial,” Obiazor said. “Just buying in and getting the rebounds and just making sure that they’re not coming back for us and just executing.”
Four Lady Rebels hit double figures in this game including freshman guard Jasmyn Lott, who reached double figures for the first time in her career.
“Jasmyn is like the silent assassin,” senior guard Essence Booker said. “She plays hard and is the hardest worker on the floor every time she steps and as a freshman, I give her props for that. She definitely motivates me to play harder.”
Lott finished the afternoon with 11 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the field.
“She just keeps getting better and better each and every practice and game,” La Rocque said. “She’s a young freshman and it’s on us to help get her confidence. We know how good she is and sometimes I’m like ‘I don’t think she knows how good she is.”
Lott also knocked down her first career three-pointer as a Lady Rebel in this one.
“I think she set the tone defensively,” La Rocque said. “When she focuses on her defense, offensively, you can tell how she can make some plays. Her jump shot is really smooth and she took the right shots and they went in for her so really happy and proud of her.”
The Lady Rebel defense was out in full force as they held the Great Danes to 32 percent shooting from the field. This is the third straight game where they have held their opponent to under 35 percent from the field.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Lady Rebels as they are right back in action on Saturday at 12 p.m. inside the Thomas & Mack. UNLV will face the winner of East Tennessee State vs George Washington.