Lady Rebels Rally For Season-Opening Win
Nov. 8, 2013
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - One of UNLV's strengths this year is expected to be its depth and ability to wear out its opponents, and that was on display Friday night as the Lady Rebels scored the final 12 points of the game to rally for a 77-70 victory over Santa Clara in women's college basketball action from the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV not only avenged a loss from last year, but improved its streak of season opening victories to seven years.
"I thought it was a great basketball game, up and down action the entire time," said UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier. "They had great three-point shooters and we had to find a way to overcome that. I think our ability to mix it up defensively and our active hands were the keys to the win. We attacked well tonight and kept good control of the ball. We just need to improve on finding the open three-point shooters and do a better job on the boards."
The Lady Rebels trailed by 10 points in the first half, were down by seven at halftime, and seven with 4:31 on the clock. The lead was still in the Bronco's hands in the final three minutes when Nici Gilday hit two at the free throw line for a 70-65 lead for the visitors at the 2:35 mark. That would be the final points of the game for the SCU though. Réjane Verin scored on a layup to start UNLV's game-ending run, then two straight steals in a 16-second span led to three straight points. First was two free throws from Vérin, then Rmanii Hayneswas fouled after she came up with a steal, and made the first of two free throws to tie the game at 70-70 with 1:38 to play.
UNLV then forced a missed shot on the other end, and after Mia Bell missed a short jumper, Vérin was there for the offensive rebound and putback for UNLV's first lead since the 9:24 mark of the first half, 72-70. The Lady Rebels kept up the defensive pressure over the final 1:13, forcing two straight turnovers, while Alana Cesarzand Vérin combined for the game's final five points for the seven-point victory.
The game was back and forth for the first 12 minutes, with four lead changes and two ties. UNLV looked like it would take control early with an 8-1 spurt, going ahead 16-9 off a Danielle Miller layup at the 13:16 mark. Six quick points brought the Broncos back into the game though. UNLV's last lead until the game's final minutes was 21-19 after Mia Bellwent one-of-two at the line with 9:24 on the clock in the first half. Gilday then sparked a Bronco run, scoring six points during a 10-0 spurt that put SCU ahead 29-21 at the 5:08 mark. The edge for the visitors grew to as high as 10, 35-25 at the 1:37 mark, while a tip-in by Vérin at the halftime buzzer made the halftime score 36-29.
UNLV cut the edge down to three several times in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, and tied the contest at 53-53 on a Vérin layup with 9:14 to play. Gilday answered with a trey for SCU, and the lead slowly grew back to seven, thanks to another three-pointer, this time from Montana Walters with 4:31 to play. However, that would be the final basket of the game for the Broncos, who were held to just three total shot attempts the rest of the way.
Miller and Cesarz led the Lady Rebels with 16 points each, while Vérin added 15 points and nine rebounds. Aley Rohdeposted eight points and nine rebounds in her first game as a Lady Rebel, while Bell dished out a game-high eight assists. The Lady Rebels forced SCU into 22 turnovers while coming up with 16 steals, leading to a 22-7 edge on points off turnovers. As a team, UNLV shot 37.5% (27-of-72) from the floor, 2-of-11 from three-point range for 18.2%, and 21-of-29 at the line for 72.4%. UNLV was outrebounded by a 53-41 margin, but that didn't come but to hurt the team as second chance points were in the home team's favor, 20-7.
Gilday finished with a game-high 22 points for Santa Clara. Ruta Zurauskyte also finished in double figures with 10 off the bench. Jo Paine and Walters both finished with nine each. SCU shot 43.8% (28-of-64) for the game, was 6-of-24 from behind the arc for 25%, and made 8-of-14 from the charity stripe for 57.1%.
UNLV plays a second straight game in the Thomas & Mack Center when it hosts former league rival BYU on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 4 pm, part of a doubleheader with the Runnin' Rebels who play UC Santa Barbara at 7 pm.