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Lady Rebels win to set up big Saturday game against Wolf Pack

Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier/UNLV Athletics

For the second straight game, the UNLV Lady Rebels beat up on a bottom-dweller of the Mountain West.

UNLV beat San Jose State, 74-54, Wednesday, Jan. 19 from Provident Credit Union Event Center.

“You never want to put yourself in that position,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “But it doesn’t hurt to get into some of those to see how your team responds. I’m happy with our response, especially in the second half.

“In a lot of ways, I feel we played the same game, we just executed better.”

The Lady Rebels sent the Spartans (3-13, 0-5) to a 10th straight loss while improving to 14-4 on the year with a 6-1 Mountain West-mark.

The team has now won four straight games and eight of its last nine. In addition, the win improves the team’s road record to 6-2.

Sitting a half game out of first place, UNLV’s next contest against in-state rival the Nevada Wolf Pack.

“It’s different from any other rivalry game,” La Rocque said. “I don’t have to talk about the game or the magnitude of it. Our team is really aware of that – they’re going to wake up for this one. If anything, I’ll probably need to calm them down a little bit and let them know it’s just like every other game.”

UNR sits at No. 2 in the Mountain West with a 4-0 conference record, 12-4 overall

Following the game at San Jose, UNLV opted to head straight to Reno three days ahead of the team’s game Saturday.

“It’s just a lot of travel,” La Rocque said. “Our conference actually changed the model of the schedule, so you play two games on the road and two games at home, for this exact setup – to go from one to another.

“We actually have the luxury where we do have a charter [plane]. Honestly, we would do it if it was any game. It’s not because it's UNR or anything.”

Freshman guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas scored a career-high 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting, going 6-of-10 from three-point range.

“I think she’s going to have it going every game,” La Rocque said. “A lot of it, I think she just does a really good job of reading what the defense gives her. Obviously, against these teams in our conference that play a zone, I mean she’s a total zone buster.”

The freshman guard from Newport Beach, California is the third different Lady Rebel to set a new career-high in points this season, marking the fourth time it’s happened for the team this season.

“I look up to [sophomore center Desi-Rae Young and guard Essence Booker] a lot,” Durazo-Frescas said. “They’ve been there, they’ve played college basketball – I had never played college basketball. Seeing them and how confident they are, even if they have a bad game, it opens my eyes.

“Because if they have a bad game then Essence will go off for 28 points or Desi will go off for 30 points. They give me a path and I’m honestly just following them.”

Durazo-Frescas hit three of her six three-pointers in the first quarter on her way to 11 first half points. She had 11 of the team’s first 19 points.

In addition, she had five made threes on nine attempts heading into the fourth quarter.

“[Being called a zone-buster] means I have let it fly,” she said. “When people play a zone, for shooters, it’s probably the best game [for us]. You’re probably going to get great game tape because you’re up against a zone.”

Durazo-Frescas along with Young combined for 27 points about midway through the third quarter.

To that point, San Jose State had 37 as a team.

Young finished with 15 points on 7-of-16 from the floor to go along with 15 rebounds, one off from her career-high.

Junior guard Essence Booker was the third UNLV player in double figures adding 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting, adding 7-of-8 from the free throw line.

Booker played her first two years of collegiate basketball at UNR.

“I’ve been in rivalry games with my high school back home but I know it’s not as big as this,” Durazo-Frescas said. “This is the state of Nevada – this is huge. Essence played for them so we have to have her back. They’re going to come for her, they’re going to come for Desi, they’re going to come for all of us. It’s going to be a challenge but I’m up for it, I’m ready for it.”

All 12 UNLV players played against the Spartans, making it the second straight game it’s done such.

Facing a team in search of its first conference win, the Lady Rebels were faced with a 18-15 deficit at the conclusion of the first quarter.

San Jose State built a lead as large as eight points in the second quarter.

However, a late 11-2 run from UNLV turned the game around as it was the road team who went into halftime with a lead.

“Well we were attacking the basket [early],” La Rocque said. “I just felt like there was just a lid on the rim [...] Maybe there were some fouls down there or a little bit of contact but we’ve played in more physical games and it’s our job to finish regardless of what’s being called or not.”

The Lady Rebels led 30-29 after 20 minutes of play despite being outshot, 41% to 30% by their opponent.

UNLV used a 9-0 run in the third quarter to go up double-digits. That lead was extended to 20 in the fourth quarter.

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