Heartbreaking Loss Despite Bell's Heroics
March 4, 2014
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (UNLVRebels.com) - Despite an amazing shooting performance from UNLV senior point guard Mia Bell who scored a season-high 25 points including a go-ahead three-pointer with 55 seconds left, the Lady Rebels left Viejas Arena with a heartbreaking loss after four points from San Diego State in the final 28 seconds led to a 64-63 Aztec victory on Tuesday night in Mountain West women's basketball action. With the win, the Aztecs clinched the sixth spot in next week's Mountain West Tournament, while the Lady Rebels will be the seventh seed, and will play the #10 seed (either New Mexico or San Jose State), on Monday, March 10 at 4:30 pm in the first round. This year's tournament is being held at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus.
It was a game that featured big runs by each team all game long. San Diego State made five of its first six shots to open up a 10-5 edge. UNLV responded with a 13-2 spurt, the final five points from Bell putting the Lady Rebels ahead 18-12 at the 11:14 mark. UNLV built its largest lead of the game, 26-19 off a three-pointer from Rmanii Haynes, at the 6:58 mark.
In what was one of the keys that decided the game, that basket by Haynes was the last one of the first half for UNLV, who would miss its final six shots while turning the ball over twice. San Diego State took advantage of the drought, reeling off the final 16 points of the half to take a 35-26 lead into the break.
Though UNLV made a few runs in the opening part of the second half, after scoring the first six out of the break it came no closer then six points over the first 10 minutes. After Cierra Warren scored six straight for the Aztecs, it looked like the home team was in control, thanks to a layup and two free throws following a technical foul that made the score 53-40 with 10:56 to play. Bell had different ideas however, as she sandwiched a pair of treys around a banked in three-pointer from Haynes, a 9-0 run in just 1:26 to make it a four-point game.
Bell kept it up from downtown, hitting two more, the second of which completed a 17-2 run that put the Lady Rebels ahead 57-55 at the 6:22 mark. SDSU answered with four straight from Danesha Long, while Danielle Miller added a free throw for UNLV, cutting the SDSU lead to 59-58 at the 4:24 mark. Both teams then clamped down on defense, as the game was scoreless for the next 2:33.
Warren broke the drought by going one-of-two at the line with 1:51 to play, giving the hosts a 60-58 edge. UNLV missed its next shot but forced a turnover, and on the next possession, Bell drained a NBA range trey form the top of the key with 55 seconds to go, putting the Lady Rebels up 61-60. Needing one stop, UNLV forced SDSU late into the shot clock, but Deajanae Scurry would turn the corner from the right side and got to the basket, laying the ball in with 28 seconds to go for a 62-61 lead. UNLV missed a jumper on the other end, and was forced to foul. Khristina Hunter made both free throws at the line with five seconds to go for a 64-61 lead. Following a foul, UNLV inbounded the ball at midcourt with three seconds left, and got a long three-point try from Bell that was just off the mark. Amie Callaway grabbed the rebound and quickly laid it in but then the horn sounded, ending the game at 64-63 in favor of the Aztecs.
In addition to the scoring drought at the end of the first half, the other key in the loss for UNLV was the Aztecs' free throw shooting. SDSU came into the night second-to-last in the league in free throw percentage at 63.4%, but would make 21-of-27 for 77.8%. UNLV meanwhile was limited to just eight total free throw attempts (5-of-8).
Bell finished the game hitting 9-of-13, including a career-high 6-of-9 from three-point range, for her game-high 25 points. Alana Cearz was the other Lady Rebel in double-figures with 16. UNLV shot 42.9% (24-of-56) for the game, was 10-of-22 from three-point range for 45.5%, and 5-of-8 at the line for 62.5%. The Lady Rebels were outrebounded by a 36-26 margin, leading to a 17-11 edge on second chance points for SDSU. UNLV made up for that by coming up with 10 steals and forcing 19 turnovers, leading to a 26-16 advantage on points off turnovers.
Warren paced the Aztecs with 17 on her Senior Night, while Hunter chipped in 11 and Deidra Smith 10. SDSU shot 40% (20-of-50) for the game, and was 3-of-7 from three-point range for 42.9%.
UNLV closes out the regular season on Friday, March 7, when it hosts Nevada, Reno at 5 pm on Senior Night at Cox Pavilion. That game is also part of the Governor's Series, an all-sports challenge sponsored by NV Energy.