Total team effort pushes Lady Rebels to 11th straight win
It’s beginning to sound like a broken record but the UNLV Lady Rebels have added another notch on the belt that is a now 11-game win streak.
UNLV beat Fresno State, 69-59, Wednesday, Feb. 16 from the Cox Pavilion.
“[The Bulldogs] are just really good,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “They’re just really good. We’ve been able to jump out to a lead a couple of times and that’s been great. But it’s a 40-minute game.”
The win secures a season sweep of the Bulldogs for the Lady Rebels, improving to 21-4 on the year in the process.
Moreover, the team is 13-1 in the Mountain West, good for first place, while sporting an 11-1 at home.
The final game of this three-game homestand will conclude Saturday, Feb. 19 when the team welcomes in the San Jose State Spartans.
“Our team knows what time of year it is,” La Rocque said. “So you’re not going to not go about getting toward the end of the season. But I think it’s about keeping our focus very narrow and not changing our messaging that got us here.”
UNLV got up big early on Fresno State before cruising to a wire-to-wire win.
The team was able to build a lead as large as 12 in the first quarter. Despite going scoreless for a stretch of more than three minutes of the 10-minute frame, the Lady Rebs went into the second quarter up nine.
The Bulldogs would cut the lead to five and down to two on three separate occasions but couldn’t get any closer before halftime.
“We know that everybody is going to come out and give us their best game,” senior guard Justice Ethridge said. “But we know we have to play our game and come out aggressive and not give anybody a reason to think they’ve won.”
In the second half, Fresno State got as close as one point twice but could never get a lead or even tie the game.
UNLV would eventually turn a three-point halftime lead into a 10-point win behind five players scoring in double-figures.
It appeared it would be a lights-out shooting night for the Lady Rebels after knocking down both of its three-point attempts to open the game.
“One good thing about us is we don’t really pay attention to missed shots,” Ethridge said. “We always know if one’s open, we’re going to take it and we’re going to keep being aggressive and keep playing our own game and eventually they’ll fall.”
The team would go on to miss its next four attempts, forcing it to find another way to win.
“It’s about finding a way to win,” La Rocque said. “And it’s different at different points in the game. If our shots are feeling good then I don’t mind those shots. Then we kind of miss a couple and then it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s change our emphasis a little bit and go inside.’”
With the game cut to five in the second quarter, Ethridge nailed a three-pointer and then capped the play with a steal on the other end. She finished with a game-high three steals on the day.
The defense was stout as a team all game long with Fresno State being forced into several shot clock violations.
Ethridge along with freshman guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas combined to shoot 6-of-12 from three-point land. The rest of the team combined to shoot 1-of-9.
Fresno State actually outshot UNLV from the field, 42% to 39%.
Durazo-Frescas ended the night with 12 points and a steal.
Sophomore center Desi-Rae Young finished with a team-high 15 points with nine made free throws on 11 attempts. She also hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds.
The paint was on lock with sophomore forward Nneka Obiazor scoring 12 points off-the-bench for La Rocque and company.
Junior guard Essence Booker came on late but turned in 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
“We’re really hard to beat,” Ethridge said. “That’s why we’re No. 1. If one person is not having a good night then there’s always somebody that’s going to step in and have one.”