Unlucky No. 13
Road loss at Wyoming snaps UNLV's win streak at 12
It was unlucky No. 13 indeed in the UNLV Lady Rebels’ latest outing with a chance to improve to a decades-long streak.
UNLV tripped up at Wyoming, Thursday, Feb. 24, losing 77-73 from the Arena Auditorium in Laramie.
It had been 52 days since the team’s last loss.
“Wyoming’s really good,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They run their offense, they’re really stingy on defense and they do what they do. Unfortunately for us, we let them get hot from three and kind of dug ourselves too big of a hole in that first quarter that we really could never get out of.”
The loss snapped the team’s win streak at 12 while sending the team to 9-3 on the road after losing to a Cowgirls team with two losses in 10 home games this season.
In two years as head coach at UNLV, La Rocque is 18-3 away from Las Vegas.
It’s only the second loss of the calendar year for the program.
With no more regular season games to play between the two, the season series was split for the second consecutive season.
The last four regular season contests between the two teams have been decided by an average of 5.8 points.
Last year, No. 7-seeded Wyoming shocked No. 2 UNLV by knocking them out of the Mountain West Tournament.
Now, the Lady Rebels are 22-5 on the year and 14-2 in the conference.
Earlier this week, the team received its first AP poll votes of the season before clinching a share of the Mountain West regular season title later in the week.
One more regular season road game lies ahead for the program as it prepares to travel to Colorado State for a chance to lock horns with the Rams.
“The good thing is we haven’t felt like this in a long time,” La Rocque said. “We’ve gone on a little hot streak of winning some games. Obviously, you’re never happy with a loss but I think it can come at the right time to really get our attention and refocus. Especially when we really need it – we want to win the conference title, not share it.”
Saturday, Feb. 26 is the date with tipoff scheduled for 12 p.m.
Wyoming was hit with COVID-19 issues ahead of the first meeting of the season with UNLV, resulting in several players being out.
Junior guard McKinley Bradshaw was one of those players who missed the first game. She made up for lost time, blitzing UNLV from the start of this game.
Bradshaw lit up the Lady Rebels for 16 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field with three of her team’s eventual 11 made three-pointers.
“She’s arguably an all-conference player,” La Rocque said. “I think she’d have my vote. When you let a player like that get hot early, it’s hard to kind of just slow them down. She can score in a number of ways.”
She did not miss her first shot until more than three minutes into the second quarter.
Wyoming built a lead as large as 12 points in the first quarter but would have the lead cut to five twice in the second quarter.
It wasn’t long before the Cowgirls pushed the lead back to double-digits and eventually to the largest of the game at 13 points.
“I honestly don’t ever worry too much about our offense,” La Rocque said. “I mean, heck, we scored 73 points – that wasn’t the problem. The problem was we gave up 77 points to a team that averages around 60.”
Wyoming tallied 19 assists on 25 made field goals after an eight assists, 10 made field goal first quarter set the tone.
UNLV wouldn’t go away easy, going on a 7-0 run to end the first half and head into halftime down six.
The second half would see more cutting into the lead. First it was down to four, then two and eventually one in the third quarter.
The Lady Rebels would tie the game at 57 apiece in the fourth quarter.
“I think we got some big time defensive stops,” La Rocque said. “It started with some stops and some rebounds to get us out in transition. I thought that’s when we were really at our best.”
Immediately following, the Cowgirls raced out to an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach for good.
UNLV went scoreless for nearly five minutes.
Junior guard Essence Booker came alive late hitting back-to-back stepback threes in the fourth quarter.
Before those makes, she was 2-of-8 from the field.
Booker would eventually foul out of the game with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting including a three made threes.
In two games against Wyoming this season, she combined to shoot 8-of-20, scoring 30 points in the process.
Sophomore center Desi-Rae Young started the game slow as well, missing her first three shot attempts. She would eventually find the bottom of the bucket with 1:40 left in the opening frame.
Las Vegas missed its first three shot attempts as a team and didn’t score its first points of the game until the 7:34-mark of the first quarter.
Young would only make two of her first 10 shot attempts before ending the night with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds.
In both games against Wyoming this season, she posted 25 points on a combined 9-of-25 from the floor.
Sophomore forward Nneka Obiazor led the team in scoring with 14 points on 6-of-10 from the field.
She shot a combined 10-of-18 from the floor against the Cowgirls this season, tallying 20 points overall.
Young and Obiazor helped UNLV win the paint battle, 40-28.
However, the team did lose the rebounding battle, 43-30.
“We knew it was going to be a lot about rebounding,” La Rocque said. “Us and Wyoming are the top-two rebounding teams in the conference in almost all of the different rebounding categories.
“So we knew that was going to be the case. We kind of fell behind in the rebound battle from the get go because they were making shots and we were missing shots.”