March 7, 2014
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - Four players finished in double-figures for UNLV, who after allowing Nevada, Reno to cut a 15-point halftime to just one point, sealed the victory with a 17-3 spurt on the way to an 80-68 Senior Night win over the Wolf Pack in the regular season finale for both teams on Friday night at Cox Pavilion. UNLV moved to 15-0 all-time against its in-state rivals in Las Vegas and won the eighth straight in the series to improve to 12-18 overall, while finishing in a tie for sixth in the Mountain West at 9-9. UNR meanwhile dropped to 17-12, 12-6 in the league.
The win also gave UNLV the season sweep over the Wolf Pack, and three points in the Governor's Series, the all-sports competition between the two schools sponsored by NV Energy. UNLV currently leads UNR by a 15-6 score thanks to the points from women's basketball.
It was Senior Night for four Lady Rebels, beginning with guard Mia Bell, who continued her strong play at the end of the season by recording her first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while also adding four steals. She was one of two seniors to finish in double-figures, as Rmanii Haynes added 11 points. Junior forward Alana Cesarz led all scorers with a 20-point performance, while Danielle Miller added 14 points. Aley Rohde, seeing her most action since a shoulder injury against New Mexico on Feb. 19, posted eight points and eight rebounds.
"I thought this evening was a great victory, it was nice to have a good crowd on Senior Night, playing against our in-state rivals," said UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier. "With the Mountain West tournament coming up, we really wanted to finish strong, I felt we played some good basketball in our game at San Diego State on Tuesday, and wanted to play well tonight to get us ready for next week. I feel that we have some momentum going into next week, and we're looking forward to that third season, we feel like we can compete with anyone in the conference."
"Mia played really good basketball tonight, great court vision, and took the shots when she needed to," said Olivier. "When she plays like that we are a much better basketball team. Alana has been shooting at a high percentage and played some very good defense tonight when we needed it in the paint."
The key to the victory for UNLV was its outstanding defensive performance in the first half, when it held the Wolf Pack to just 21.2% shooting, 7-of-33 from the floor. UNLV also forced 10 turnovers that were turned into 12 first half points. Though UNR improved its shooting in the second half to 43.8%, it would only outscore UNLV by three in the stanza. That was due to the Lady Rebels shooting 50% in the second half, including 4-of-8 from three-point range.
It was a tight contest at the start, as neither team led by more then two scores over the first ten minutes. Following a layup from Mimi Mungedi that cut the edge to 14-12, UNLV ran off eight straight points, capped by a Cesarz trey for a 22-12 lead at the 8:38 mark. The Lady Rebels slowly increased their lead, go ahead by as much as 17, 39-22 with 17 seconds to play before taking a 39-24 edge into the break.
UNLV's lead was in double-digits for the first five minutes of the second half, and was up 45-35 at the 14:41 mark, before going into a scoring drought that lasted three minutes. UNR took advantage by reeling off nine straight points, closing to within 45-44 with 12:15 to play off a layup from Arielle Wideman. Bell ended the scoreless streak for UNLV with a three-pointer to put the home team back up four. The Wolf Pack managed to stay with UNLV for the next four minutes, closing to 54-52 on a pair of Wideman free throws at the 8:47 mark.
Defense by the Lady Rebs fueled a run to clinch the game, as following a pair of Haynes free throws, UNLV converted two straight steal and layups. Back-to-back three-pointers from Bell and Danielle Miller then put UNLV ahead 66-52. After UNR hit a three-pointer, UNLV scored five more, with a second Miller trey completing the 17-3 run for a 71-55 advantage at the 5:45 mark. The Wolf Pack came no closer then 12 the rest of the game, coming on the night's final basket.
UNLV shot 47.5% (28-of-59) for the game, was 6-of-14 (42.9%) from three-point range, and 18-of-26 at the lien for 69.2%. The Lady Rebels were outrebounded by a 45-41 margin, but came up with nine steals and eight blocks in the win.
Wideman finished the game with 13 points for UNR, the only player in double-figures. Danika Sharp, the team's top scorer this season, was held to just seven points and was only 1-of-10 from the floor. The Wolf Pack shot 32.3% (21-of-65) for the game, was 1-of-19 from three-point range, and 25-of-37 at the line (67.6%).
UNLV returns to action on Monday, March 10, in the first round of the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Championships.