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Late surge by No. 24 UNLV results in 10th straight win

In what will serve as the final homestand of the regular season, the UNLV Lady Rebels needed all 40 minutes to complete a come-from-behind effort and extend its winning streak to their longest of the season.

Number 24 UNLV finished off the comeback win against Boise State, 63-57, from inside the Cox Pavilion Wednesday, Feb. 28. That runs the team’s win streak to 10 consecutive victories with the last win capturing a third straight Mountain West regular season title.

“We didn’t play our best,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “Especially in the first half, I thought we were really disjointed, we were missing layups, the ball was kind of bobbling off our hands a little bit. But I challenged them at halftime to just regroup.”

Through 27 games this season, La Rocque’s Lady Rebels have compiled a 25-2 overall record. The final part of the program’s last regular season homestand will conclude with Senior Day against the San Diego State Aztecs Saturday, March 2 with tip-off slated for 2 p.m.

“Our team is just very deserving,” La Rocque said. “Obviously, we’re champions already, we’ve got more work that we want to do. It’s a day for celebration for two seniors that have put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice, investment, commitment and we’ve got a great ticket deal with $3 tickets for our three-peat. I know I’m biased but I think our team deserves a sellout.”

UNLV needed a late 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to regain control of the game for the remainder of it. Prior to its run, the reigning three-time Mountain West champions trailed for more than 25 minutes.

Earlier in the frame, the team regained the lead for the first time since early in the third quarter and would hold onto it for the rest of the game.

Junior guard Kiara Jackson was held scoreless until that fourth quarter but was a vital part of the Lady Rebels’ offense during its game-changing run. She’d finish with four points, six rebounds and a game-high six assists.

“I think she was a little off to start the game,” La Rocque said. “Again, I think we were all just a little off. Her persistence to not just throw in the towel for the game – to keep battling and then figuring out what she needed to do to get herself going.”

Freshman guard Amarachi Kimpson put the finishing touches on the win with back-to-back layups for the program with under two minutes left. Five of her eight points came in the final 120 seconds of the game.

“We’ve been in some close late games here lately,” La Rocque said. “Some of it is by design to have the ball in her hands again with some other great players around her; sometimes she has the advantage offensively.

“Her little floater, runner shot – those two last baskets won us the game. Hands down.”

In addition to the offense coming to life, the UNLV defense stood strong when necessary. The team held Boise State without a point for more than half of the 10-minute fourth quarter session.

The Broncos went two for their last 11 from the field as part of a 3-for-14 fourth quarter.

Boise State’s length and use of its zone defense caused plenty of problems for UNLV early and throughout the majority of the game. It took nearly three minutes for either side to find the bottom of the bucket.

However, the zone defense kept the Lady Rebels from tallying their first three-pointer of the game until a minute and a half into the second quarter. The Broncos went up early behind a 12-2 run in the first quarter as the home team was reeling.

“They play really hard,” La Rocque said. “They were inspired and extra motivated tonight, they played harder than I’ve seen them play even on film against other people. We’ve come to expect to get everyone’s best shot. They played a little bit more zone, they didn’t play as much zone in the first game so that took our team just a little bit to get acclimated to.”

Young started the game 1-for-9 from the field and had a moment in the second half where she was joined by associate head coach Roman Owen on the bench.

“Desi’s a very emotional player,” Owen said. “That’s what we thrive on with her especially, she brings that everyday to our team, to practice everyday. In some of those moments where she’s struggling, she’s just gotta take a deep breath. I felt like a lot of their length got in her head a little bit.”

Coming out of halftime, Young knocked down her first two field goals after heading into the break with a 2-for-10 mark. She’d finish as the lone UNLV player in double-figures with 13 points.

“Maybe I was just in my head too much,” she said. “I always think about what I have to do and  not about what I have to do for the team. So just changing my mindset and telling myself, ‘You know this is a team sport and you have to be there for your teammates.’”


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