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Second half surge pushes Lady Rebels past Aggies

Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier/UNLV Athletics

After a week off, UNLV returned to its winning ways, adding another conference win to its season total.

The Lady Rebels beat the Utah State Aggies, 72-60, Saturday, Feb. 5 from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

There were several flip-flops atop the Mountain West standings during the seven-day hiatus for the program. “Honestly, it felt like a long time since the last game,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “A little bit of adversity there just waiting around. Obviously, we can’t worry about anybody else, we have to handle our own business and take care of ourselves and control our own destiny.” UNLV has now won eight straight games, sweeping the season series away from Utah State in the process.

The Lady Rebels are now 8-2 on the road and 17-2 away from home under La Rocque.

Overall, the program is 18-4 on the year and 10-1 in the Mountain West conference. The win returns the team to sole possession of first place.

The road trip continues for the team as an away contest against the Boise State Broncos is on the horizon.

“Boise’s a very good team,” La Rocque said. “They had a really good win today and they play really, really, really well at home. So we’ve got to get our rest, learn from this game and prepare for them. They’ve got big post players similar to ours so we’ve got to gameplan, watch our first game, make our adjustments and be ready to go.”

Last year, both programs split the season series.

To get its latest win, UNLV used a 43-28 second half to take over the game for good.

A 7-0 run early in the third quarter gave the road team a one-point lead.

That run would turn into an 11-0 run after Utah State went scoreless for more than four minutes.

“It was a little bit of both [offense and defense],” La Rocque said. “I think after the first quarter our defense was much improved and I think coming out of halftime our defense was actually better at creating opportunities for our offense.”

The lead would grow to seven after UNLV extended that run to 14-1.

As it often does, the lead grew as the game wore on. Before the end of it, the Lady Rebels held a lead as large as 16 points.

This all came after UNLV trailed Utah State by eight after the first 10 minutes of play.

Sophomore center Desi-Rae Young posted another double-double, going for 16 points and 15 rebounds including nine offensive rebounds.

She had her double-double midway through the third quarter. As a team, UNLV outrebounded Utah State, 39-37.

“I mean, Desi is just a warrior,” La Rocque said. “She kind of got into some early foul trouble which I don’t love, I would love for her to be more disciplined but 16 points, 15 rebounds – however you cut it, those are some pretty good numbers there.”

Young ended the game with four fouls in 25 minutes of action.

Junior guard Essence Booker struggled from the field, scoring 13 points on a cold 4-of-20 shooting.

“I think it was just one of those days for her,” La Rocque said. “She’s human just like the rest of [the team]. Maybe she was pressing a little bit but as a coach, I just tried to keep her calm and settled down. She’s interested in running the team and pushing it on offense. The biggest thing is she stayed aggressive.

“I’m fine with her maybe having a little bit of an off-night, if anything, I’m glad it was tonight. Get that out of the way and get back to business.”

The Lady Rebels were actually outshot by the Aggies, 40% to 39% despite getting the victory.

Booker’s play was relieved by another strong outing from senior guard Justice Ethridge, who has been bothered by a lingering leg injury.

“Justice was huge on both ends of the floor,” La Rocque said. “[Shyla Latone and Kaylin Randhawa] are [Utah State’s] best offensive guards and I think at different points Justice guarded them both. We held them to 13 points combined and Latone had 26 points the first time we played them.”

Ethridge chipped in with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including two made threes, to go along with three rebounds and three assists.

She was limited to just 12 minutes in the team’s last outing against Air Force.

The team did get senior forward Khayla Rooks back after missing two games due to a lower leg injury.


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