UNLV Lady Rebels fall in OT to Hawaii, 66-61

December 20, 2018

By KJ Turkson

Las Vegas, Nevada -- A resilient UNLV Lady Rebels team made a furious comeback from 18 points down in the second half, but fell just short in losing to the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine, 66-61, in an overtime thriller of the opening game of the 2018 Duel in the Desert.

Opening the mini-holiday tournament with a non-conference contest against Hawaii of the Big West Conference, Head Coach Kathy Olivier's charges came into the contest desperately needing a win, as they were looking to right the ship on a campaign that has thus far not gone according to plan.

The Rebels began Wednesday's contest still decidedly short-handed, as both Katie Powell and Paris Strawther were nursing injuries and unavailable for action.  Both post performers were not only missed for their frontcourt productivity, but also for their veteran, senior leadership.

In the early going, it was forwards Makenna Woodfolk and Leah Salanoa providing the offense for Hawaii, as they knocked down a pair of shots from the outside, and the Rebels struggled to find an offensive rhythm.  At the time of the first media stoppage, Coach Olivier's Rebels already found themselves in a hole, down 13-2.

Senior lead guard Nikki Wheatley, the leading Rebel scorer on the day with a total of 19 points, would cut the deficit to a 17-10 score with a nice steal and fast break lay up. Moments later, Jordyn Bell and Rodjanae Wade worked well off of one another with some nice high-low post action that resulted in a bucket for the home team. Freshman Justice Ethridge brought them within three as she scored from long distance right before time expired in the opening frame to narrow things at 17-14.

The second quarter saw the Rainbow Wahine capitalize off turnovers, ill-advised shots, and poor defensive rotations by the Lady Rebels, as they pushed their lead to 17, at 34-17. LaTecia Smith was able to help cut into the lead with a nice drive and dish to Haley Bodnar Rydalch, reducing the Hawaii lead to 13, at 34-21.

However, Hawaii would go on another mini-run to close out the first half with an eighteen-point advantage at 39-21.

UNLV started the second half off well enough, with Wheatley battling down low for an offensive rebound and put back, converting the free throw after being fouled to pull the Lady Rebels to within 13, at 41-28.

Wheatley and Smith would combine on a key run by the home squad, clawing back into the contest and cutting the once sizable deficit to single digits at 47-38 when Hawaii sophomore pivot Lauren Rewers converted an easy layup as time expired in the third quarter to give the Rainbow Wahine the 49-38 advantage heading into the final quarter.  

Wheatley opened the scoring in the final frame by banking a nice catch-and-shoot jumper, and then Bailey Thomas converted off a theft for a contested layin to pull the home team within 7, at 49-42.

Later, it was Ethridge who would once again show why she has earned Coach Olivier's trust to play vital minutes even as an underclassman, as she nailed yet another trifecta to pull the Rebels within 2, at 49-47.  Wheatley then converted on a layin off of a Smith steal, resulting in a 49-49 tie that would have seemed not only improbable, but nearly impossible moments earlier.

Wheatley was fouled on a fast beak and after making one of the two subsequent free throws, the Rebels held a one-point advantage at 50-49. The teams would trade baskets from there, with Wheatley once again providing a one-point lead for UNLV off the strength of a pull up jumper in the half court.

The Rebels still held the same advantage when Bell fouled out of the game with under two minutes remaining in regulation, which may or may not have led to Woodfolk finding an opening to slide through for a nice layin, giving the Rainbows a 53-52 lead with under a minute to go. Smith converted on a nice give-and-go with Wheatley moments later to restore the Lady Rebels' one-point advantage at 54-53.

This led to Smith being fouled with 13.2 seconds on the clock. Smith was able to convert one out of two free throws, increasing the Lady Rebels lead to two, at 55-53, and setting up a final possession in regulation for Hawaii. Tia Kano was able to manipulate the defense and get to her spot, converting on a tough layup in traffic over Smith to tie the game and send it into overtime.

In the overtime period, reserve guard Jadynn Alexander would knock down a contested corner three to put Hawaii ahead. After Latecia Smith converted on a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one at 60-59, Alexander duplicated the feat in knocking down two free throws of her own to restore a three-point lead for Hawaii.

Smith would once again cut the lead to one, this time with a tough turnaround jumper in the lane, but after Hawaii missed two free throws, UNLV failed to convert on the other end, giving Woodfolk the opportunity to ice things at the free throw line when she converted on both of her attempts to make it 64-61.

Woodfolk would add another two free throws moments later for the Rainbow Wahine, giving them the final 66-61 margin.

The victorious Hawaiian squad will play the winner of Thursday afternoon's Florida Gators-Utah Utes matchup.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...