Lady Rebels Win MW Opener 69-58 Over Lobos

Jan. 9, 2013

LAS VEGAS ( - Thanks to 21 points from senior guard Kelli Thompson and a swarming defense that forced 27 turnovers, UNLV won its Mountain West season opener on Wednesday night 68-57 over New Mexico in women's college basketball action at the Cox Pavilion. The Lady Rebels stopped a three-game losing streak and improved to 5-10 with the victory, their first of the year over a team with a winning record. New Mexico dropped to 8-6, 0-1 in league play.

UNLV was ahead almost the entire game, while the Lobos held an advantage for a total of only 27 seconds on the night. The second and final time UNM was on top was 57-56 with 2:39 to play. Just two seconds later Thompson drew a blocking foul and drained a pair of free throws to put UNLV back ahead. The Lady Rebels would end the game on a 12-0 run for the 11-point victory. The win avenged UNLV's upset loss to the Lobos in the first round of the 2012 MW Tournament.

"I thought nine days of prep was huge and a big advantage, I felt we had a great game plan tonight and the players were really focused and it showed on the court," said UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier. "We had a great team effort, while Kelli did everything we possibly could need, great leadership and was able to knock down shots when we needed a basket. Everyone on the roster contributed tonight though and that was a big key to the win."

UNLV began the game hitting seven of its first 10 shots from the floor while building a 17-8 edge. The Lobos stayed within striking distance, twice cutting the edge to four points, at 25-21 and against at 27-23 on an Antiesha Brown jumper with 5:53 to play in the half. Thompson would hit a trey, her second of the first half, to give UNLV its largest lead of the half at 36-26, and they would take a 37-29 advantage into halftime.

After UNLV went up by 10 again early in the second half, the Lobos responded with a 7-0 spurt, closing within 39-36 on another Brown jumper. While UNLV would hold onto the lead for the next 10 minutes, it was never by more then five points during that stretch. Another 7-0 UNM run featured back-to-back treys from Caroline Durban, the second one putting the visitors ahead 52-50 with 7:39 on the clock. Thompson would respond with a driving layup on the other end, the first of six unanswered points for UNLV to make the score 56-52.

Again the Lobos made a run, this time five straight points with Deeva Vaughn putting UNM up 57-56 with a layup. Thompson answered with her go-ahead free throws, and added two more with 2:03 left for a three-point edge. Thompson and Danielle Miller would combine to score 10 of the final 12 points, and that final 12-0 run included a 10-for-10 performance at the free throw line. UNM meanwhile missed its final six shots from the floor.

Joining Thompson in double figures was Alana Cesarz with 16 and Miller with 12. Rmanii Haynes added seven points and five assists in the victory. UNLV shot 42.3% (22-of-52) from the floor, was 6-of-14 from three-point range for 42.9%, and made 18-of-24 at the line for 75%. UNLV was outrebounded by a 26-23 margin, but forced 22 turnovers while coming up with 12 steals and five blocks.

Durbin paced the Lobos with 16 points off the bench while Vaughn added 13. UNM shot 40% (22-of-55) for the night, was 5-of-13 from behind the arc (38.5%) and 8-of-12 at the line (66.7%).