Las Vegas, NV—The Lady Rebels came out the locker room with one goal in mind to handle their business from the tip-off. And they did.
UNLV (26-2 overall, 16-0 Mountain West) coasted to an 86-32 victory over Utah State (4-23, 1-15) at the Thomas & Mack Center Thursday night in the program’s most dominant victory in years.
The Lady Rebels scored the first 12 points and led 23-2 after the first period. UNLV held Utah State to single-digit scoring in the first half and was definitely in control of the game.
UNV entered the contested ranked 24th in the nation and with the Mountain West regular season title already secured, UNLV push the gas and dominated the first half as Utah State went into the locker room down 49-8.
“Personally, this game was a big test for them in my mind,” UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “They not only passed test but they kind of took a hold of it and made it their own. I’m really proud of them because now there’s no looking back.”
Utah State’s 32 points were the fewest allowed by the Lady Rebels since a 62-31 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 22, 1987. It was UNLV’s largest margin of victory since beating Central Connecticut State by 55 points, 83-28, on Dec. 2, 2001.
USU shot 18.0 percent (11-for-61) from the field and 18.2 percent (6-for-33) from behind the arc. The Rebels, meanwhile, shot an even 50.0 percent (32-for-64) from the floor with a 33.3 percent (10-for-30) mark from 3-point range.
UNLV maintained control throughout the second half en route to the victory. The loss was USU’s largest margin of defeat in a conference game since losing by 55 points at BYU on Feb. 26, 1987.
Freshman Natalie Fraley and sophomore Cristina Oliva led the Aggies with seven points apiece. Fraley also tied for the team lead with four boards alongside junior Tamiah Robinson and senior Maria Carvalho. Freshman Isabella Tañedo led USU with a career-high three assists.
Essence Booker had the game’s only double-double. Booker didn’t score a point for the first time as a Lady Rebel. UNLV’s point guard has lately reveled in the role of running the offense, dishing 10 assists to match her 10 boards. She’s scored just four points in the past two games but delivered back-to-back double-digit assists games – the first two of her collegiate career.
The Lady Rebels improved their winning streak to 17 consecutive games and have won their last 19 at home.
“This is the time of the year when we have to be laser-focused on what we need to do to get better. That could have easily not happened. I think this result shows the determination of this group.” coach Lindy La Rocque said.
Desi-Rae Young poured in a game-high 19 points in 19 minutes. The 6-foot-2 center made her first-ever 3-pointer and dished a flashy coast-to-coast, fast-break assist as everything went to the Lady Rebels’ way.
Utah State (4-23, 1-15 MW) faces its last road game of the season on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. (MT) when they take on New Mexico (18-11, 10-6 MW).
The Lady Rebels will be home on Saturday, Feb. 25 to play San Diego State for a 5:00 P.M. start time.