Lady Rebels take game one against second-place Bulldogs
Junior Nia Johnson split two late-game free throws to close out the Fresno State Bulldogs, as the UNLV Lady Rebels recorded its eighth road victory of the season.
UNLV beat Fresno State, 68-66, Thursday, Feb. 25 from the Save Mart Center.
“This might be the biggest one of the year, home or away,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “What a gritty, it's hard to put into words to be honest. Just so so proud.”
The Lady Rebels will enjoy their first win against a well profound team in Fresno State but will need to stay prepared for their second matchup against the Bulldogs on Feb. 27.
UNLV still has its eyes on taking the number one spot from Colorado State, however chances are getting slimmer. The Rams have continued to win despite playing less games than the Lady Rebels.
Colorado State controls the number one spot with a 14-2 overall record and 10-2 conference record.
With the win, the Lady Rebels now have a 12-5 conference record and 14-8 overall record. They are also tied for the second spot in the Mountain West with Fresno State, but have the edge over the Bulldogs with the head-to-head win with one more to go.
UNLV's 12 MW wins ties for the second-most in school history, along with the 2016-17 squad and right behind the 2017-18 team that won the regular season title with a 14-4 mark.
The Lady Rebels have now earned their respect, defeating every team in the conference at home or on the road, proving they deserve to play with the best teams in the Mountain West.
“Credit to our young women, they found a way,” La Rocque said. “They made a huge run on us in the third quarter, we made some clutch baskets to keep in striking distance, and then we locked down on defense in the fourth, we needed to.”
With one more game left in the regular season, UNLV controls its Mountain West Tournament placement with its next game against Fresno State.
In this first meeting, the Lady Rebels had trouble making shots, shooting a game-low of 39 percent from the field.
UNLV’s turnovers were not that extreme of a concern during the game as the team only recorded 13.
Despite the tough shooting and the turnovers the Lady Rebels were a sound team playing aggressive defense throughout the game.
Four out of five starters scored in double figures.
After scoring the game-winning free throw, Johnson finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
Freshman Desi-Rae Young recorded 12 points and three rebounds while sophomore Delaynie Byrne posted 13 points and 12 rebounds, recording her sixth double-double.
Redshirt senior Bailey Thomas scored 12 points to go along with six rebounds.
Her freshman sister, Jade, recorded three points but hauled in eight rebounds in the game.
“Bailey is so steady, [Johnson] it wasn't her best game but she had a big three for us, [Byrne] with a huge game with her double-double,” La Rocque said. “Fresno State is a heck of a team, they are really good.”
The UNLV Lady Rebels have now built confidence in themselves to potentially win the conference in it’s first-year under its new head coach
“We've now beaten every team in the conference this year”, La Rocque said. “At home or away, we're proud of that. Now we have another game here on Saturday but we're going to enjoy this one right now."
The Lady Rebels came out with a defensive aggressiveness posting 49 rebounds and challenging every shot attempt.
They forced the Bulldogs to shoot 35 percent from the field and 37 percent from the three-point line.