The UNLV women’s basketball team started the new season with a win over the Pepperdine Waves 80-58.
The Lady Rebels were without head coach Lindy La Rocque for the game after she gave birth on Thursday. In her absence, associate head coach Roman Owen took charge of the team, but coach La Rocque did have some words of encouragement for Owen before the game.
“Lindy did something amazing,” Owen said. “She said, ‘Don’t try to be me. Be you.’ For her to free me up and let me try to coach the way I feel about the game, that’s more than I deserve.”
As the game began, the Lady Rebels started slowly. Pepperdine took an early 5-3 lead three minutes into the first quarter.
However, led by 11 points from Essence Booker, the Lady Rebels built a 10-point lead toward the end of the quarter. UNLV led after the first quarter 24-16.
In the second quarter, the Lady Rebels were able to surpass a 10-point lead. Nneka Obiazor drove to the basket and scored to make the score 30-19. The Lady Rebels also went on a 16-2 run in total, increasing their lead to 40-21.
The Waves did respond with a 6-0 run, which decreased the lead to 13 points, but a layup with five seconds remaining from UNLV’s Kiara Jackson swung the momentum towards the Lady Rebels and ended the half leading 42-27.
UNLV’s Desi-Rae Young had a big second quarter, scoring eight points and grabbing two rebounds.
The second half began and again the Lady Rebels started slowly, missing their first three shots. Although Obiazor did end the small drought scoring a free-throw and layup to put the Lady Rebels up by 16 points.
Obiazor also hit the Waves with a spin move and layup toward the end of the quarter.
The lead for the Lady Rebels was solidified after Jackson hit a jump shot and Booker ended the quarter with a three-pointer to make the score 62-44.
In the fourth quarter, UNLV’s Justice Ethridge took over, scoring nine of her 17 points in the quarter.
UNLV freshman Jasmyn Lott also made her debut and picked up an assist immediately upon entering the game, giving Young an easy layup.
The game ended with an 80-58 victory for the Lady Rebels. Booker and Ethridge each led UNLV with 17 points. Ethridge added nine rebounds.
Young had 16 points, seven rebounds, and two steals. After the game, Booker talked about what the team wanted to improve on going into the next game.
“Obviously we want to improve on our defense and our communication for sure, I feel like that’s key one,” Booker said. “The guards, as well as myself, we didn’t do a good job on communicating with the switches, and just in general we weren’t on the same page. I feel like we could be more connected.”
Up next, the Lady Rebels will take on Oral Roberts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at the Cox Pavilion for Veterans Day/Military Appreciation Game.