UNLV begins Mountain West Tournament with decisive win over Fresno State

UNLV is coming into the tournament as three-peat Mountain West regular season champions and defending Mountain West tournament champions.

LAS VEGAS — The UNLV Lady Rebels have dominated throughout the season, and are coming with the same intensity in the Mountain West conference tournament.  Their first matchup was Monday against No. 9 seed Fresno State.  UNLV is coming into the tournament as three-peat Mountain West regular season champions and defending Mountain West tournament champions.

UNLV head coach, Lindy La Rocque said, “I thought our team played well. And this was the biggest game of the year because we don’t get the next one without this one.”

The game ended with another predictable score. UNLV controlled the game and defeated Fresno 83-35.  In their matchup earlier this season, there was a similar outcome, UNLV reigned victorious over Fresno State 63-59.  

Fresno State head coach Jamie White was optimistic after her team’s win yesterday over Air Force.  She suggested if they kept it close, they’d have a chance against UNLV.  The first quarter seemed like this may be the case.

Fresno won the tip-off, but UNLV was first to score with a two point field goal.  Deajanae Harvey tied the game 2-2 and UNLV was quick to respond.  Mia Jacobs was able to tie the game again 4-4.  Harvey and Jacobs were vital to Fresno today, Jacobs being the biggest threat to UNLV.

For the first five minutes, it was close.  Fresno was able to take the lead 7-6, it was short lived.  This was the only time Fresno had a lead in the game.  At the end of the first quarter the score was 19-13.

After the first quarter, Fresno couldn’t keep up with the nationally ranked Lady Rebels.  Going into the half, UNLV widened their lead with the score 44-20.

Into the third quarter, UNLV went on a sizable scoring run of 25 and limited Fresno’s scoring to no more than 8 points in the second, third and fourth quarter.  

UNLV took home several of the Mountain West awards.  Desi-Rae Young was named Mountain West player of the year, Amarachi Kiimpson earned Freshman and 6th player of the year and a few others collected accolades from the conference.  

UNLV saw the usual suspects, and award recipients shine during the game.  Alyssa Brown, Amarachi Kimpson, Kiara Jackson, Desi-Rae Young and Alyssa Durazo-Frescas played with the same energy that has helped UNLV excel this season.  Brown and Kimpson led in scoring with 16 points and Jackson trailed them with 15.  

Jackson said, “It just shows how deep we are that we can all contribute. It means a lot because we don’t have to put pressure on one single person. We can all make plays and help us get the win.”

Nearly five players had scored in double digits and in the second half of the game, younger players were able to come off the bench.  Freshman Macy Spencer had a strong 13 minutes and showed she was a force to watch out for.  

La Rocque told the media, “Playing three high-intensity games, that’s our goal. You’ve got to win the first, and now we’ve got to take it one step at a time, but it’s just preparing us for tomorrow. So I thought it’s huge. We’re going to get some great recovery. No one is too banged up, so we should still be hopefully pretty fresh for tomorrow.”

White gave her praises to UNLV and Desi-Rae Young.  She said, “Obviously Desi has been here for a minute, she’s grown her game. She’s gotten better over each year. For a really good, even her freshman year, to continue to get better, that’s impressive…It’s time for them to get past that first round. It’s time for our league to get past that first round in women’s basketball. I’m going to be cheering for them.”

UNLV will play their second game of the Mountain West tournament tomorrow at 5:00pm against either No. 5 seed Colorado State or interstate rival No. 4 seed UNR.