New head coach, new young players, same UNLV Women’s Basketball struggles
The UNLV Lady Rebels lost their season opener to Northern Arizona University 79-75 Wednesday, Nov. 25 from the Thomas & Mack Center.
“NAU's a great team, very well coached, can shoot the three, and we dug ourselves too big of a hole,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “But I'm proud of the fight and determination we gave ourselves there at the end to give ourselves a chance.
"Great game, honestly it was just great to get out there and play someone new. That first quarter looked like a scrimmage that I wished we could have had behind closed doors to get out all the kinks.”
The Lady Rebels took advantage of the free throw line and hit a pair of clutch three pointers in late to make it a one possession game.
With 36 seconds left in the game, forward Desi-Rae Young made two free throws to cut the deficit to 75-72.
Teammate Jasmine Singleton was then called for a blocking foul allowing the Lumberjacks to stretch their lead to five points, 77-72.
With just eight seconds left, La Rocque called a timeout, advancing the ball to half court where forward Delaynie Byrne made a three point shot, closing it to one possession, 77-75.
With time a major factor, the Lady Rebels had no choice but to foul giving the Lumberjacks a 79-75 victory after the added free throws.
UNLV will get it’s chance at redemption, this time on the road Wednesday, Dec. 2 against Cal State Fullerton at 5 p.m. from Titan Gym.
Throughout the night, UNLV struggled on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, it was unable to shoot at a high percentage from the field until late in the game.
The Lady Rebels shot 36 percent from the field for the game with their game-high of 42 percent coming in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, they were unable to stop the Lumberjacks from scoring as they built a lead as large as 19 points.
UNLV had a quick lead at the start of the game until NAU went on a 10-0 run to regain the lead.
The Lady Rebels would not lead again.
Despite their struggles, the Lady Rebels won the rebound battle 47-45 and shot 77 percent from the free throw line.
“Delaynie made some nice plays, Bailey was our heart and soul and it hurt to lose her at the end,” La Rocque said. “We got a lot of things from different people, we won the rebounding battle. A lot of positive things to take from today, we're not done, we'll continue to improve and work to get better.”
Byrne recorded her first career double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds and she was also joined by teammate Keyana Wilfred with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The team will have to find ways to take care of the ball, starting the season with 17 turnovers.
This is a young team with a new head coach but with its season opener loss filled with shooting and defensive struggles, it appears this team may have the same struggles it did last year under former head coach Kathy Olivier.