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UNLV beats NAU by 20 behind career-nights from Young, Jackson

For the first time since late November, the UNLV Lady Rebels returned home and greeted fans with a double-digit revenge win that dates back two years.


UNLV beat Northern Arizona, 93-73, Wednesday, Dec. 21 from the Cox Pavilion. Prior to this win, head coach Lindy La Rocque and the Lady Rebels were 0-2 against the Lumberjacks including a 22-point loss last season.


“We needed this one,” she said. “But not because of them but because of us. I’m really proud of the way our team responded, the effort that we gave and the momentum this will give us going into conference play.”


After the win, UNLV now leads the all-time record over 15-4.


In addition, it improves the team’s home record to 8-0 this season. Over the last two years, La Rocque and company are 24-3 at home.


“Obviously, we like playing here,” she said. “We like playing in front of our home crowd. We get juice here and that’s part of being a good team, good teams defend their homecourt.”


Overall, the Lady Rebels are 10-2 this season after depositing the Lumberjacks and now look to turn their attention toward the Mountain West conference part of the schedule. “All records are 0-0,” La Rocque said. “It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in non-conference, what our opponents have done or what any other conference team has done. Anyone can beat anyone.”


Conference play will begin with a Thursday, Dec. 29 matchup against the Wyoming Cowgirls. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Both teams split last year’s two meetings with UNLV winning by six in the first meeting and losing by four in the second.


“We’re taking this one just as personal as NAU,” junior center Desi-Rae Young said. “We’re going to come out, we’re going to smack them and they’re going to go home sad.”


From the jump in the team’s last contest, Young had it going. She scored the first four points for UNLV, eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for her career.


“It was great,” she said with a smile. “I knew it was coming, [UNLV play-by-play announcer Wyatt Tomchek] told me and I was just excited. I was like, ‘I’m not going to tell anybody. I’m just going to wait for everyone’s reaction.”


Young was responsible for starting a 6-0 first quarter run that saw UNLV take the lead for good. That 6-0 would eventually swell to 19-0 before it was brought to an end.


By the end of the first quarter, Young had 10 points on her way to a career-high 30 points on 12-of-18 from the field to go along with 14 rebounds, which tied a season-high.


Her effort helped UNLV come away with a 16-0 first quarter advantage in paint points. In fact, the Lady Rebels scored 18 paint points before the Lumberjacks scored their first. At the final buzzer, the Lady Rebels had won that department, 44-24.


“Coach Lindy has been talking about us being aggressive from the jump,” Young said. “I just think when we come out and we’re the aggressors we show teams that, ‘You guys can’t mess with us but we’re going to mess with you.’”


In her first 12 minutes on the floor, Young had already notched her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds.


“Desi knows we need her,” La Rocque said. “And we need her at her best all of the time. That’s giving maximum effort, being the leader that we know she is and she wasn’t going to let this one go by today.”


UNLV won the rebounding battle, 44-42, and was aided by a season-high eight rebounds from senior center Keyana Wilfred.


“I saw great things from her,” Young said. “For one, offensive rebounds. She does a great job of that especially when we’re practicing. She practices that all the time just being aggressive.”


The Lady Rebels were without two key post players in junior forward Nneka Obiazor and sophomore forward Alyssa Brown. Both players are nursing knee injuries but are expected to be ready for the start of conference play.


Sophomore guard Kiara Jackson provided a big boost, scoring a career-high 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting. She filled the stat sheet with five assists, four rebounds and three steals.


Jackson scored nine points in the final 5:01 of regulation including seven straight points that allowed the Lady Rebels to push their lead to 19.


“First off, she’s just a baller,” La Rocque said. “She has an extremely high basketball IQ and she is a true point guard. I think there’s not many of them out there anymore – girls, boys, men, women, at any level. She is a true point guard and when the game is near the end and we need a bucket, I trust the ball in her hands and she’s shown why and she’s proving me right so far.”


Senior guard Essence Booker was the final UNLV player in double-figures, posting 12 points on 3-of-11 from the floor with five assists and four rebounds.

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