Lady Rebels Rally Past Spartans and Advance to Quarterfinals
LAS VEGAS - UNLV overcame a 13-point first-half deficit to slip past San José State 78-75 in the first round of the 2014 Reese's Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship at the Thomas & Mack Center.
It's the first win in the MW tournament for the No. 7 Lady Rebels (13-18) since 2009, and the largest deficit they have overcome this season. They will take on defending tournament champion and No. 2 seed Fresno State (19-10) in the quarterfinals. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT. Tenth-seeded San José State, playing in its first MW Women's Basketball Championship, finishes the year with an 11-19 record.
"I know that we just haven't played consistent," UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier said. "When we're all on the same page, striving for that one goal, that same goal, we're a much better team. I thought we did that the last five minutes. We were just playing together. It was Lady Rebel basketball."
Buoyed by a barrage of 3-pointers, 11 in all, San José State raced out to a 13-point first half lead against UNLV, only to see the Lady Rebels slowly claw their way back into the game. Danielle Miller, a junior guard who finished with 14 points, put the Lady Rebels up 73-72 with 57 seconds to play, but the lead was short-lived as San José State junior guard Ta'Rea Cunnigan scored on the other end to put the Spartans back ahead. A pair of Miller free throws gave UNLV the lead back, this time for good as San José State turned the ball over on its ensuing possession, then missed a potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
"I saw opportunity, but I just felt like I had to go for it," said UNLV senior guard Mia Bell, who forced the final San José State turnover and finished with 10 points. "It was now or never. I kind of just had to go for it, so I just went for it."
Also scoring in double-figures for the Lady Rebels was sophomore forward Réjane Vérin with 10 points and sophomore center Aley Rohde, who despite playing with a twice-separated left shoulder, made all six of her field goal attempts and ended the game with a team-high 16 points.
Rebecca Woodberry, a junior guard, scored 20 points for the Spartans, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range. Cunnigan finished with 11 points, while junior guard Classye James led the team in scoring with 22 points. It's the third time this year the junior guard has eclipsed the 20-point barrier.
"I think we played with a tremendous amount of effort," San José State head coach Jamie Craighead said. "Our lack of depth sometimes hurts us, and we had a little bit of foul trouble. But, I just am really proud of my kids. I thought they stepped up, made big plays, especially (Classye and Rebecca). They came up big and we came up a couple possessions short."