Powell, Lady Rebels Shoot Down USC 77-66 For 3-0 Start|
Nov. 19, 2016
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - Behind an outstanding night from three-point range and a hard-fought effort on the boards, UNLV claimed its first win over a Pac-12 squad in 12 years with a 77-66 victory over USC in women's college basketball action on Saturday afternoon from the Thomas & Mack Center. In front of 1,301 fans, the Lady Rebels improved to 3-0 after rallying from down nine early in the second quarter, while the Trojans suffered their first loss of the season after a 2-0 start.
The last time UNLV won over a Pac-12 member was in 2004, when it defeated Arizona State on March 18, 2004 in the first round on the WNIT Postseason Tournament in the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. The Lady Rebels also avenged their loss to USC from last year, when it suffered a 73-42 defeat on the homecourt of the Trojans on Dec. 6.
UNLV finished the game connecting on 11-of-19 from behind the arc for 57.9%, while the Trojans hit just four of their 14 attempts (28.6%). Just as big was the Lady Rebels play on the boards, as they outrebounded the visitors by a 46-31 margin while posting a 15-8 edge on second change points. UNLV's hustle on defense paid off all game long, as it finished with 15 steals and forced 21 turnovers, and held a 25-20 edge on points off turnovers.
Four Lady Rebel starters finished in double-figures, but the fifth, Dylan Gonzalez, was limited to just six minutes after suffering a shoulder injury. With one of their key players out, UNLV needed someone to step up, and two players from the bench answered the call. Sophomore Katie Powell, a transfer from Arkansas in her first year on the team, had the best game of her collegiate career with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. That included four-of-four shooting from three-point land, including one from NBA range. Another sophomore, Jordyn Bell, played a career-high 26 minutes and came up with a career-best 11 rebounds, eight on the defensive side, while adding seven points.
For the second straight game UNLV had it struggles shooting from the floor, missing its first four shots while falling behind 8-2. Nikki Wheatley hit the team's first basket to cut the edge to 6-2, but the Trojans would hold a two-possession lead for the majority of the quarter, ending the first 10 minutes with a 21-16 edge.
The lead stretched to seven twice for USC, the last at 28-21 with 7:22 to go in the second quarter off a three-point play from Jordan Adams. An 8-0 Lady Rebel run, fueled by three-pointers from Brooke Johnson and Dakota Gonzalez, put the Lady Rebels ahead 29-28 just two minutes later. The game would be tied twice over the next minute, and Ja'Tavia Tapley went one-of-two at the line for a 35-33 edge with 3:13 on the clock. That was the last point of the first half for the Trojans, as they were forced into four missed shots and three turnovers. UNLV took by hitting six free throws to close out the half and take a 39-35 advantage.
UNLV opened the second half with four straight points to open an eight-point edge. The Trojans converted a layup from Kristen Simon to close within 43-37, but that was the last time there were within two possession. Powell scored seven of her points in the final five minutes of the third quarter, including a shot from far behind the arch to give UNLV a 61-46 lead. Wheatley's layup with 48 seconds to go put UNLV up 64-48, and the Lady Rebels ended the third up 65-52.
UNLV then effectively sealed the game by scoring the first four points of the fourth while holding the Trojans scoreless until the 7:12 mark. USC attempted to rally, but could never get within single digits, and the Lady Rebs closed out the win.
Joining Powell in double-figures was Wheatley and Dkota Gonzalez, both with 13, while Johnson and Paris Strawther finished with 13 each. As a team, UNLV shot 45.1% (23-of-51) from the floor, including 62.5% in both the second and third quarters. They also hit 20-of-34 at the line (58.8%).
USC was paced by Courtney Jaco with 16 points and Adams with 13 and eight rebounds. After its strong first quarter start in which it shot 64.3%, the Trojans were twice held to just 33% from the floor in a quarter, and finished shooting 25-of-56 for 44.6%. USC also had its roubles at the line, making 12-of-26 for 46.2%.
UNLV has the week off before return to action on Saturday when it hosts the Lady Rebel Round-Up. The first game will feature UNLV and Tennessee State on Nov. 26 at 12 pm, while Ole Miss and Wisconsin follow at 2:30 pm. The consolation game will be played on Sunday at 12 pm, and the championship follows at 2:30 pm. All games will be in the Cox Pavilion, and UNLV will be running a promotion in which fans can receive $2 admission with a canned food donation.