Another win for the UNLV Lady Rebels means the season-best win streak has now reached eight straight games for the program. It’s the longest win streak for the team since winning 12 straight contests last season.
To end a short two-game homestand, UNLV beat Boise State, 73-61, Monday, Jan. 16 from the Cox Pavilion. The Lady Rebels have now won the last four meetings against the Broncos.
Moreover, the team celebrated the WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces with MVP A’ja Wilson, Most Improved Player Jackie Young and members of the staff including head coach Becky Hammon. In addition, the game was the second straight nationally televised game for UNLV.
“It was awesome,” head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “For a game environment, it felt a lot like Michelob Ultra Arena over there. For them to support us says a lot about their organization and their willingness to support young women and be selfless.”
With the win, the Lady Rebels improve to 12-0 at home. Overall, the program is 17-2 on the year including a 7-0 mark in the Mountain West. That’s the best start in the conference since the 1992-93 season when the team started 13-0 in the Big West.
Two tough road tests lie ahead for UNLV in back-to-back matchups against Wyoming and Colorado State. The Lady Rebels have already beaten the Cowgirls and Rams once this season, both at home.
“We’re very excited for that and Colorado State,” sophomore guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas said. “Those are two tough teams that we had two really good games against them here. We’re excited to go to their place and have a good game there too.”
The meeting with Wyoming in Laramie will take place Thursday, Jan. 19 from the Arena Auditorium with tip-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We lost there last year,” La Rocque said. “We had a very close game here to start [conference play too]. We know the absolute most important game of the year is the next one and it’s at Wyoming. I think it’s the probably the toughest place to play in the conference.”
Boise State’s strategy appeared to be similar to many UNLV opponents from this season which have looked to dirty the game up by being extremely physical.
“We like a physical game,” La Rocque said. “I don’t try and make my mind up about any refs or how they’re going to call the game before I get there. It’s on our team and our staff to make adjustments. We know we’re going to get every team’s best shot.”
The physicality began with the post matchup between reigning Mountain West Player of the Week Desi-Rae Young and Bronco center Elodie Lalotte.
Minutes into the game, the officials reviewed a play for a hostile act after Young had taken an elbow to the face from Lalotte. The two mixed it up again in the third quarter as they got tangled up after the play.
“I think it was a great matchup,” Young said. “It’s always going to be a battle down there. She is probably one of the best post players we will ever face in conference so I love playing against them.”
Young left the first quarter after picking up two early fouls. At that point, she headed to the bench with three points, a rebound and three turnovers to go along with her two fouls.
Things changed in the second quarter when UNLV was able to utilize its full-court defense resulting in several Boise State turnovers.
“We knew we wanted to pick up the tempo a little bit,” La Rocque said. “I thought, defensively, we just had a few miscues in the first quarter. [We] challenged our group to really lock in and get the job done and they did.”
As a result of the tight defense, the Broncos were held to just nine points in the second quarter including having to endure a scoreless drought of three and four-plus minutes.
The Lady Rebels forced 21 total turnovers, scoring 31 points off of them.
Young also adjusted to the physical play and began to start pulling the chair on Boise State post players forcing several traveling calls.
“She has some real basketball-IQ out there,” La Rocque said. “The game has slowed down for her a little bit so she can make some adjustments defensively [and] I think she’s making the right plays offensively.”
For the second straight game, UNLV extended the lead in the third quarter on the way to a double-digit win. Last game, Durazo-Frescas claimed that La Rocque challenged the team to put the team’s opponent away early in the second half.
An early 11-2 run by the home team pushed the lead to its largest lead of the game at that point, 12 points. Durazo-Frescas scored nine of her team-high 16 points in the third quarter on her way to 5-of-10 shooting for the game with three made three-pointers.
Her effort sparked a 30-16 third quarter for the defending Mountain West champions.
“I was [in my own head] a little bit,” Durazo-Frescas said. “In the third quarter, we came out and I saw the first one go in and I was like, ‘Okay, I got my groove back.’ The hoop just got bigger from there.”
A three from sophomore Alyssa Brown near the third quarter buzzer pushed the lead to 17 points. In the fourth quarter, the lead was stretched to 19 points.
Young recorded 15 points with four rebounds, four assists and a steal. On the other end, Lalotte countered with 19 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
“It’s unfortunate that Desi got into a little foul trouble early,” La Rocque said. “Elodie is a really good player, she’s their leading scorer on the year – I know she’s struggled a little bit in conference. Mainly because people have been keying in on her.”
Senior guard Essence Booker added 12 points on 5-of-13 from the floor.