Lady Rebels Stunned In MW Quarterfinals
March 7, 2012
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - Seventh seed New Mexico hit four straight three-pointers, part of a 16-4 run to end the game and hand second-seed UNLV a stunning 61-58 upset loss in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Conoco Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship on Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center. The loss dropped the Lady Rebels to 22-9 for the season, while UNM improved to 10-19. The Lobos now advance to Friday's semifinal round, while UNLV will now have to wait and see if a WNIT bid is in its future, as the tournament field will be announced on Monday night.
In a game that featured nine ties and 16 lead changes, UNLV led for the majority of the second half after trailing by three at halftime. A NBA-range three-pointer from Kelli Thompson gave the Lady Rebels their largest lead of the game, 54-45 at the 8:07 mark. UNLV then went cold from the floor, as the Lobos held them to just one field goal over the final eight minutes. But it was three-point shooting that turned the game, with the Lobos knocking in three from behind the arc in a 81-second span. Caroline Durban started the run with a trey at 7:09, while Nikki Nelson hit two straight, the second at 5:48 to knot the score 15 54-54. After a free throw from Kelli Thompson put UNLV back ahead by one, Durbin nailed another trey at the 4:55 mark, and the Lobos never trailed again.
Lenita Sanford tied the game at 57-57 at the 4:01 mark. New Mexico's Lauren Taylor drew a foul at the 2:27 mark, and drained a pair of free throws for a two-point Lobo edge. After a 30-second violation on the other end for UNLV, Porche Torrance hit a jumper for a 61-57 edge with 1:39 to play. Mia Bell cut into the lead with a free throw at the 1:16 mark, but UNLV could not find the bottom of the basket again, missing its last four shots despite two possessions with chances to tie the game.
New Mexico opened the game with a 5-2 edge, before UNLV scored six of the next eight points for its first lead at 8-7. The lead switched hands five times over the next four minutes, and was tied five times in that stretch, the final time at 19-19 on a layup from Sanford. The Lobos then reeled off seven unanswered, capped by a layup from Torrance for a 26-19 lead at the 3:52 mark of the first half. UNLV climbed back into the contest with six straight points, the last four from Danielle Miller, and would be within three at halftime, 31-28.
UNLV opened the second half with eight of the first 11 points, going ahead 36-34 on a jumper from Sandrine Nzeukou at the 16:44 mark. New Mexico countered with a three-pointer from Lauren Taylor, and led 41-40 on a jumper from Durbin at the 15:03 mark. Thompson then hit a pair of free throws to spark a 9-0 run over a three-minute span. A short jumper from Mia Bell capped the run to make it 49-41 at the 11:41 mark. UNM cut the edge to six twice over the next three minutes, the second time 51-45 at the 8:35 mark, before Thompson's long bomb for the Lady Rebels.
Four Lady Rebels finished in double-figures, paced by 16 from Thompson. Bell added 12 points, while Sanford and Nzeukou both posted 11 each. Jamie Smith grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. UNLV shot 41.8% from the floor (23-of-55) and was 10-of-16 (62.5%) from the field, but only 2-of-12 from three-point range for 16.7%. UNLV did hold a 36-33 edge on the boards, and turned the ball over only 11 times.
Torrance paced the Lobos with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Nelson, who was 4-of-6 from behind the arc, added 14 points, while Durbin and Taylor both connected on 2-of-4 from three-point land on the way to 12 points each. UNM finished the night shooting 40.4% (21-of-53), 11-of-15 at the line (73.3%), and was 8-of-14 from three-point range for 57.1%.