By Kweku Turkson
Las Vegas -- The UNLV Lady Rebels earned an impressive win at home Saturday afternoon, defeating a determined San Diego State squad, 80-62. Dakota Gonzalez once again led the way for the home team, pacing four Lady Rebels players in double figures with 20 points, before coming down awkwardly on an Aztecs player's foot and rolling her ankle badly.
UNLV used a 12–5 run in the fourth quarter to reclaim control of things after leading by as many as twenty points early in the first half.
In the early going, the Rebels were led by reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Week Dakota Gonzalez, who was able to continue her torrid offensive pace from the season’s past few weeks, netting twelve points in the opening quarter.
The Lady Rebels were also bolstered by the return of sophomore guard Brooke Johnson, who had missed the previous game with a moderate knee sprain. UNLV also got a nice spark when Dylan Gonzalez knocked down a disputed trifecta right before the first quarter buzzer sounded, giving the Lady Rebels a 25-11 lead after one quarter of play.
Later it was Johnson, perhaps looking to show that she was no longer suffering from the knee injury, who drained a step-back jumper that was so deft she nearly caused her defender to crumble to the floor. Sophomore forward Paris Strawther also showed some diversity in her offensive repertoire, stepping beyond the arc to hit from long range, and enabling UNLV to open up a 36-16 lead midway through the second quarter.
While the visitors did make a small run to claw their way back into the game, UNLV still entered the halftime break with a double-digit lead at 41-28. UNLV enjoyed this advantage due largely to their very balanced scoring, as they had no less than four players tally at least seven points in the first half.
In the second half, Strawther played aggressively despite not receiving the benefit of the doubt on many calls, as she showed a willingness to bang down low. Midway through the third, it was the less heralded half of the dynamic Gonzalez duo that looked to spark her team when she completed an awe-inspiring three-point play after being knocked to the floor by an overzealous Aztec defender. Dylan Gonzalez had an efficient game overall on the offensive end in this matchup, netting 17 points.
Johnson also established a nice second half rhythm, tallying 15 points for the game. Nevertheless, UNLV was plagued by some uncharacteristically sloppy play late in the third quarter, enabling the visitors to gradually work their way back into the game, as the Aztecs cut the lead down to single digits with under a minute to play in the third.
Down the stretch however, the home team was carried by alternating clutch shots from Dylan Gonzalez, Strawther, and some unexpected offensive output from Jordyn Bell, as they restored control of the game and once again increased their lead to a near twenty-point advantage.