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Lady Rebels Defense Leads To Win Over New Mexico

todayJanuary 28, 2022 14

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Lady Rebels Defense Leads To Win Over New Mexico

By Donette Coleman

The first meeting between the two teams, the Lobos defeated UNLV 71-68 on a last second 3-pointer from LaTora Duff.  

So with revenge on their minds and the number one seed in the conference on the line, the Lady Rebels certainly understood the importance of executing their assignment. 

“We knew what was resting on this game,” UNLV head women’s basketball coach Lindy LaRocque said. “We didn’t shy away from it.” 

Despite the Cox Pavilion being filled with 800 plus fans, super lit music from DJ Kiloo and high energy cheers, the Lady Rebels still came out flat to start the game.  

New Mexico raced out to a 16-9 first quarter lead, and built a 10 point advantage throughout the second quarter before UNLV ignited. 

The Lady Rebels used a balanced attacked to chip away at the Lobos, as seven players scored during a 17-2 run to pull them within two points 34-32 at half-time. 

UNLV turned the ball over 11 times in the first-half, compared to just six for the Lobos. 

First year players Kaira Jackson, Alyssa Brown and Aylssa Durazo-Fresca really stepped up for the Lady Rebels in the second half providing productive minutes in the absence of Khayla Rooks. 

Durazo-Fresca caught fire from the three point line in the third quarter hitting three 3-pointers for 12 points followed by two free-throws to give UNLV a one point lead 43-42. 

The up tempo foot race in the third quarter featured several lead changes, but the Lady Rebels managed to take a 59-55 led into the final quarter. 

The Lobos had no answer for Essence Booker in the fourth quarter as she had her way, scoring 11 points in the quarter but was forced to the bench after picking up her fourth foul. 

With the score tied 67-67, Justice Ethridge entered the game and provided a spark for the Lady Rebels. 

Ethridge scored on a lay-up, then raced down court to come up with a big block on the Lobos which helped set up another 3-pointer from Durazo-Fresca giving UNLV a 74-69 lead. 

LaTora Duff hit running jumper with three minutes remaining to cut UNLV’s lead to 76-71. 

The Lobos changed to a zone defense which briefly caused UNLV to panic. Out of a timeout Booker returned to the game, knocking down a 3-pointer to extend UNLV’s lead to 79-71. 

Shaiquel McGruder scored back-to-back lay-ups to help New Mexico even the score at 79, but their Head Coach was called for a technical foul with 2.8 second remaining. 

Essence Booker made four straight free-throws to help UNLV escape with a 85-79 victory.  

The win improves UNLV’s record to 16-4 overall and 8-1 in conference play, and allows UNLV to take over the top seed in the Mountain West Conference. 

Essence Booker finished with a season-high 31 points and scored her 1,000th career point in leading UNLV. 

Aylssa Durazo-Fresca added 15 points, Desi-Rae Young tallied nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Lady Rebels. 

Shaiquel McGruder led New Mexico with 27 points and LaTora Duff finished with 17 points. 

UNLV will be back in action Saturday January 29th, at 2pm versus Air Force at the Cox Pavilion.

Written by: Ray Fletcher

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