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Stingy defense results in Silver State Series win for UNLV

It had been 332 days since bitter rivals, UNLV and Nevada - Reno, last met but the Lady Rebels didn’t forget the stain the Wolf Pack left at the Cox Pavilion.


UNLV downed UNR, 80-57, Saturday, Jan. 28 from the Cox Pavilion to run its season-high win streak to 11 straight games. In addition, the team is now 13-0 at home this year.


“I think we’re just playing much, much better,” junior center Desi-Rae Young said. “Having [head coach Lindy La Rocque] here, she just set a tone for years after us. I think she’s done a really great job at that.”


Prior to this meeting, the last five meetings between these two rivals have been decided by an average of 4.2 points per game.


“I think it feels good all the time,” Young said. “I think it’s something special for us. We always just set that tone. When we do figure it out, we’re going to win.”


This win for the Lady Rebels came in front of a standing room only crowd from their home venue.


“Our team deserves this,” La Rocque said. “I think they showed that. We didn’t put some chump performance together. Maybe it was a little bit of a slow start but it’s one of those things where we have a great product that we’re proud of.”


Young admitted that the size of the crowd initially made her nervous.


“I think maybe the crowd saw that in the first couple of minutes,” La Rocque said. “It was a big crowd and not a late-arriving crowd so maybe there were some extra butterflies and jitters but that’s natural.”


UNLV is 20-2 on the year with a perfect 10-0 start in the Mountain West. As it stood prior to tip-off, the team had received just one vote in the AP Top-25 rankings.


“I think we’re doing some nice things,” La Rocque said. “If people want to recognize that nationally, we would love that – we would love that. But that’s out of our control though. Regardless, it doesn’t change the work that we do and how we prepare everyday.”


Ahead of the program, the Lady Rebels will now embark on a two-game road trip where they will visit two of the top-six teams in the conference.


“I do think [the road trip to] Wyoming and Colorado State was really tough but then I look up – and maybe that’s my own fault for not seeing what’s ahead too,” La Rocque said. “New Mexico and Air Force are two teams that are playing really, really well and they both had big outcomes today.We have to pack all of our bags, take everything that we have because we can’t leave anything behind.”


It was UNLV’s defense that told the story against UNR as the team held its opponent scoreless for the final 3:18 of the first quarter. Additionally, the Wolf Pack went without a point for nearly two and a half minutes early in the second quarter.


“We’re very [proud about our defense],” Young said. “We’re just focusing on what we can control – we can’t control what the refs call. We can control if we want to dive on the ball or go get that rebound.”


In the first half, the Lady Rebels built a lead as large as 12 points before pushing it to more than 20 in the second half.


Over the last few games, the emphasis from La Rocque and company has been to use the third quarter to stretch leads heading into the final 10 minutes of play.


“She says it all the time,” Young said. “We have a motto that, ‘This is our biggest game of the year,’ and we try to embrace that as well. It’s all about buying-in.”


In that third quarter, UNLV pushed the lead to 20 and in the fourth to 25.


Young recorded another double-double, her eighth of the season, with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-16 from the field to go along with 12 rebounds.


Sophomore forward Alyssa Brown added a double-double of her own with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Her and Young’s 12 rebounds were tied for the game-high.


As a team, the Lady Rebels out-rebounded the Wolf Pack by 12 by the conclusion of the game. In addition, UNLV won the paint battle, 32-26.


“Well, they were both cleaning up the glass and we had to have that,” La Rocque said. “Reno is a really good rebounding team so that was a huge emphasis for us. They both finished with double-doubles [and] that’s big time for your two post players.”


Sophomore guard Kiara Jackson drained a first quarter three-pointer that gave UNLV its first lead of the game at 18-16 on the heels of a 15-6 run by the home team. That lead would never be relinquished by the Lady Rebels.


Starting guards Justice Ethridge and Alyssa Durazo-Frescas poured in 12 points apiece on a combined 8-of-17 from the floor including four made threes.


Senior guard Essence Booker went without a point for the first 15-plus minutes of the ball game, going 0-for-6 in the process. She ended the night with 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

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