Latest win produces third three-game win streak for Lady Rebels
It’s another three-game win streak for the UNLV Lady Rebels following another conference win, this time over Utah State.
That marks the third three-game win streak of the season for the program.
UNLV beat Utah State, 86-68, Saturday, Jan. 15 from the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Definitely just a different routine and rhythm than we normally have of two days and then a game [and so on],” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “But we had the same scout and preparation – our team was prepared. They were able to move past the last game and look toward Utah State.” The win gives the Lady Rebels a 28-4 all-time advantage in the series and runs their consecutive win streak versus the Aggies to nine games.
UNLV is now 13-4 on the year and 5-1 in the Mountain West.
Utah State marked the end to a two-game homestand by UNLV and now the team heads back to the road.
San Jose State is the first stop on a two-game road trip, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m.
Both games against the Spartans were canceled last season so it will be the first career game against San Jose State as a coach for La Rocque.
“Honestly, I haven’t watched a single game of theirs,” La Rocque said. “I probably should have by now but I haven’t so I’m going to get on that tonight and tomorrow. I know they played Fresno State back-to-back, I don’t know what the score ended up being today but I know they were playing pretty close with them.
“We didn’t see them at all last year, they kind of have a whole brand new team. We’ll have to really do our work, watch a lot of film and be prepared.”
Utah State briefly led for 12 seconds at the start of the game but would not lead from that point forward.
That lone basket would be the team’s only make through its first nine attempts.
During that stretch, UNLV forced five turnovers including two 10-second violations.
The Lady Rebels were able to build a lead as large as 12 in the first quarter. That marked the third time in the last five games the team has held a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
By the second quarter, the lead had grown to 14 but would be cut down to as little as six after turnover issues by the home team.
“It’s definitely [concerning],” senior guard Justice Ethridge said of the turnovers. “We just need to learn to take care of the ball better because down the road that one turnover is going to matter and it’s going to make a difference.”
UNLV committed eight of its 11 first half turnovers in the second quarter.
Those mistakes allowed for Utah State to go on a 9-2 run to go into halftime down 37-31.
“[The Aggies] are a good team and they play hard,” La Rocque said. “Especially, once they get going offensively. In my mind, it’s kind of less about what they did and more of our lack of discipline and effort on a few plays to allow them to go on that run.”
From there, the Lady Rebels would regain their stranglehold on the game and would eventually push the lead to 15 in the third quarter and 25 in the fourth.
“Honestly, we just tried to get more focused and connected,” Ethridge said about the halftime speech. “Nobody knew what they were doing, we were just all over the place. We just needed to come back together as a team.”
Ethridge scored a season-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with five made three-pointers. She also added four rebounds and three assists.
This is the fourth time she’s scored in double-figures this season.
“For sure Justice was the player of the game,” La Rocque said. “First off, defensively she’s been spectacular the last three or four games. Really all of conference play, more often than not she has the assignment of the other team’s best player.
“And [Utah State’s Kaylin Randhawa] was their best player, she’s been scoring all their points and [Justice] held her to four points [...] We can rely on her defense and if we can continue to get some more of this offense and get that going we’ll be really happy.”
Ethridge has been known for her quiet demeanor, both on-and-off the court.
“I’ve always tried to be a person that leads by example,” she said. “I haven’t always been the loudest but your actions, they speak louder than words. Sometimes, it’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do.”
Sophomore center Desi-Rae Young went nearly perfect from the field, finishing 7-of-9 from the floor for 16 points to go along with eight rebounds.
Fellow sophomore Nneka Obiazor led the team with 21 points on 9-of-11 from the field, scoring 13 of her points in the fourth quarter.
“I definitely want to shout them out because I think Nneka and Desi have gotten a lot better at just seeing the floor,” Ethridge said. “Knowing when to kick it out when they’re being double and triple teamed really opens it up for us outside because they’re a threat inside also.”
With the game in hand, La Rocque was able to get every player some floor time.
“It’s just so huge and honestly that’s where I was a little disappointed in our first half effort, execution and just discipline,” she said. “We want to be able to play everyone, every game but it relies on the people that are out there first doing their jobs and doing it well.”