Lady Rebels Crush Falcons 86-48

Feb. 25, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (UNLVRebels.com) - UNLV turned a close game into a rout, ending the game with a 38-4 run to post an 86-48 victory at Air Force in Mountain West women's basketball action from Clune Arena. The 38-point win margin is the second-highest ever in a MW game for UNLV, behind an 82-41 win at San Diego State on Jan. 27, 2001, and was the first time UNLV has won a league game by 20 points or more since the 2004-05 season. It was also the largest win margin in any game for UNLV since a 47-point win over Columbia on Dec. 29, 2010.

The Lady Rebels improved to 21-8 overall, and remained tied for second in the league along with Colorado State at 9-4. That sets up a showdown for the second seed in the MW TOurnament on Wednesday, Feb. 29, as CSU comes to Las Vegas for the Lady Rebels' Senior Night at 7 pm in the Cox Pavilion.

The Lady Rebels led for almost the entire afternoon, but couldn't shake the Falcons (5-23, 0-13) in the first 28 minutes of the contest, despite taking double-digit lead three times in the opening minutes of the second half. With UNLV up 48-38, the Falcons reeled off six unanswered points, cutting the edge to 48-44 with 12 minutes to play on a jumper by Dymond James.

That would turn out to be the last field goal of the game for the Falcons. UNLV scored the next 14 points of the game, with all 18 coming from the trio of Rmanii Haynes, Sandrine Nzeukou and Kelli Thompson, for a 62-44 lead at the 7:55 mark. After Air Force sandwiched single free throws around a Jamie Smith layup, freshmen bench players Alana Cesarz and Briana Charles combined for the next 11 points of the game, going up 75-46 on two Cesarz shots at the line at the 4:41 mark. Two more Air Force free throws were followed by an 11-0 run to end the game for UNLV. In all, the Lady Rebels held Air Force to 0-12 from the floor in the final 12 minutes while forcing eight turnovers.

Free throws hurt the Lady Rebels in the first half, as they made just 6-of-16 over the first 20 minutes. That allowed Air Force to stay within single digits for the majority of the first half. Air Force's lone lead of the game came at the start, scoring four of the first five points of the game for a 4-1 edge. Jamie Smith tied it up with a trey for UNLV, staring a 10-1 run for UNLV. A three-point play from Markiell Styles capped the run at 15:46, making the score 11-5. Air Force tied the game twice, at 11-11 and then again at 13-13 on two James free throws at the 9:59 mark. Nzeukou then scored five points during an 8-1 run to push UNLV back up 21-14, and the Lady Rebels would take a 32-26 lead into the half.

For the first time this year UNLV had two 20+ point scorers in the same game, as Kelli Thompson finished with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, while Nzeukou posted 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Smith recorded her sixth double-double of the year and 34th in her career with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Cesarz tied her career-high with 10. All 11 players on the roster scored for the Lady Rebels.

UNLV finished the game shooting a season-high 55.8% (29-of-52), including 68% (17-of-25) in the second half, and was 5-of-8 from three-point range for 62.5%. That made up for a 23-of-39 performance at the free throw line (59%). The Lady Rebels finished with a 44-26 edge on the boards, and outscored Air Force 32-16 in the paint.

Alicia Leipprandt led the Falcons with 16 points, and James also finished in double-figures with 10. Air Force was held to 30% (15-of-50) for the game from the floor, made 1-of-9 at the line for 11.1%, and 17-of-27 at the charity stripe for 63%. The Falcons turned the ball over 23 times, which was turned into 21 UNLV points.