LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In a game that featured several big runs, UNLV claimed back the lead at the end of the third quarter and used a 23-point fourth quarter to claim a season sweep over Utah State with a 73-62 victory Wednesday night in Mountain West women's basketball action from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The Lady Rebels remained perfect on the road this season (3-0) and moved to 7-6 overall while taking over sole possession of fourth place in the Mountain West at 5-3. The Aggies meanwhile dropped to 4-9, 2-6 in the league.
UNLV came out flat from the floor, knocking down just 31.1% of its shots, but would shoot over 40% the rest of the way.
However, the Lady Rebels struggled at the line, hitting just 22-of-33 (66.7%) and made just 5-of-20 from three-point range (25%) to keep the Aggies around. Utah State also helped its chances by outrebounding the taller UNLV squad 42-38, after giving up 61 rebounds to the Lady Rebels just two days ago.
THE SECOND QUARTER: For the second straight game in the series, Utah State kept it close in the first half and held a second-quarter lead twice, the last at 16-14 on a three-point shot with eight minutes to go. UNLV then moved to a 2-3 zone that completely confused the Aggies, as they would go scoreless over the next 5:40 of the game. The Lady Rebels reeled off 15 unanswered points during that stretch, turning a 16-14 deficit into a 31-16 advantage, and would take a 36-21 lead into the break.
THE TURNING POINT: Utah State made a run after halftime, using a 14-0 run over a 5:14 span to take a 42-41 advantage with 2:50 on the clock. After having been held to just five points in the first seven minutes, UNLV responded with eight points over a 72-second span to go back up 49-42. Nia Johnson started the run with a pair of free throws, followed by back-to-back layups from Desi-Rae Young and a jumper from Jade Thomas to end the run. UNLV never trailed again in the game.
THE FOURTH QUARTER: The Aggies didn't go away quietly, closing within a single possession twice, the second at 59-56 with 3:56 to play. Delaynie Byrne, who had been limited by foul trouble in the first half, drained a long trey to put UNLV back up six, 62-56 just nine seconds later. Jade Thomas then sealed the game with a corner trey near the UNLV bench at 2:11 for a 67-59 advantage.
LADY REBEL OF THE GAME: Young notched the second double-double of her freshman season with team-highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds, on six-of-11 shooting. She also added three steals in the victory.
STAT OF THE GAME: UNLV collected a season-high 15 steals, leading to 24 Utah State turnovers. That helped the Lady Rebels hold a 25-11 advantage on points off turnovers.
QUOTABLE: "It wasn't pretty but I was really proud of our effort and showing the fight to get this win on the road. We felt like we had it going in the second quarter, then we kind of got back on our heels in the third when they made a run. But we have such a young group, the crowd was getting loud in the second half, I was proud how we responded. We relied on some of our past experiences, we kept our composure and made some big free throws and got a huge road conference win tonight." - UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque
LADY REBEL NOTES
* - UNLV has now won eight-straight in the series against Utah State, all by double-digits.
* - This is UNLV's first conference sweep of the season, following Monday's 89-59 victory over the Aggies.
* - UNLV's bench outscored the Aggies by a 21-7 margin. Leading that charge was Keyana Wilfred with 12 points while Anna Blount chipped in seven.
* - Also finishing in double-figures for the night was Jade Thomas with 13 and Johnson with 10.
NEXT TIME OUT: UNLV comes home to host in-state rival UNR in a pair of Mountain West games on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 5 pm and Monday, Feb. at 1 pm. Both games will be in the Cox Pavilion. This will also be part of the Silver State Series, the all-sports competition between the two schools sponsored by IBEW and Nevada Donor Network