Lady Rebels Leap Past Colorado State 53-48|
February 29, 2012
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) -
On UNLV's Senior Night, it was a junior that was the star of the night as guard Kelli Thompson posted her third straight 20+ point performance to lead the Lady Rebels past Colorado State 53-48 on Wednesday night in Mountain West women's basketball action from the Cox Pavilion. In what was a showdown for second place in the MW, UNLV came out with the win to claim its first-ever top-two finish in the conference with a 10-4 mark, and improved to 22-8 overall. CSU dropped to 13-16, and finished tied for third in the MW with TCU at 9-5.
UNLV will be the second-seed in next week's 2012 Conoco Mountain West Championships in Las Vegas, the highest seed in school history in the MW tournament. The Lady Rebels will open play on Wednesday, March 7, taking on seventh-seed New Mexico in the quarterfinals at 6 pm in the Thomas & Mack Center, a team that UNLV swept both games from during the regular season.
Though Thompson took team-high honors in scoring, senior Jamie Smith had the early highlights for UNLV. Coming into the night five rebounds away from becoming UNLV's all-time leading rebounder, she needed less then a half to reach the mark, grabbing her fifth of the night at the 9:18 mark. She finished the night with 11 rebounds to give her 1,131 in her career, passing the previous mark of 1,124 that was held by former Lady Rebel All-American Linda Frohlich (1999-02).
The story of the night was defense for UNLV, as Colorado State was held to its second-lowest point total of the year, and lowest in league play. The Lady Rebels came up with eight blocks and seven steals while holding the Rams to 29.3% shooting from the floor (17-of-58).
Colorado State led just twice, at 2-0 and 4-2 on two baskets from Sam Martin. UNLV then scored the next six points of the game, and never trailed again. With the lead at 11-10 in the final eight minutes of the opening stanza, four different Lady Rebels scored during a 9-0 run to give UNLV its first double-digit lead of the night. A three-pointer from Smith at the 5:13 mark made it a 20-10 edge. Back-to-back treys from Mia Bell and Thompson pushed the lead up to 13 points, and UNLV would take a 30-18 advantage into halftime.
An 11-4 run to open the second half for the Rams brought them within five points, 34-29 on a layup from Meghan Heimstra. UNLV countered with a 6-0 run of its own, with Markiell Styles' layup pushing the edge back to double-digits, 40-29 with 11:04 on the clock. The lead then hovered between seven to 13 points over the rest of the game, until the Rams hit a trey from Martin with nine seconds to go, making the final margin a five-point UNLV win.
Nzeukou was the second-highest scorer for UNLV with eight points, while Mia Bell added seven and five assists. UNLV shot 35.8% (19-of-53) from the floor, was 6-of-15 from three-point range for 40%, but only 9-of-19 at the free throw line (47.4%).
CSU was paced by Martin with 28 points. Kelly Hartig added eight and seven rebounds.