SAN DIEGO (UNLVRebels.com) – Nia’s Johnson driving layup with two seconds left gave UNLV a 73-71 comeback victory over San Diego State Tuesday afternoon in Mountain West women’s basketball action from Viejas Arena. The Lady Rebels, who entered the fourth quarter down eight, extended their road win streak to seven games, which is tied for the fifth longest in the nation, and are now tied for most conference wins in the Mountain West at 11-5 (13-8 overall). This also marked UNLV’s third road sweep of a conference opponent this season, and third MW series sweep overall.
After leading Monday’s game by 20 or more points for the majority of the contest, the second matchup was a much tighter affair, with 10 lead changes and 11 ties in the contest. After falling behind by nine in the first quarter, UNLV used a 5-0 run in the final minute to end the first 10 minutes down 16-13, and then another 5-0 run to end the second quarter gave the Lady Rebels a 31-29 halftime advantage. The third quarter was in the Aztecs favor however, as the hosts outscored UNLV 28-18 to grab back the lead.
THE TURNING POINT: SDSU scored the final four points of the third quarter to take a 57-49 edge. UNLV then exploded for a 9-0 run in the first two minutes of the second half. Six points came from Desi-Rae Young while Bailey Thomas added a trey, as the Lady Rebels grabbed the lead back at 58-57. After SDSU ended its drought with a two-point jumper, Delaynie Byrne answered with a trey to put UNLV back up by two, and the Lady Rebels never trailed again in the game.
THE FINAL 30 SECONDS: The Aztecs hit a three-pointer with 28 seconds left to cut a four-point lead to 70-69, then fouled Bailey Thomas four seconds later. Thomas missed the first but made the second free throw for a 71-69 lead. Mercedes Staples then drained a mid-range jumper with 14 seconds on the clock to knot the score at 71-71. UNLV called a timeout, advanced the ball and then inbounded to Johnson, who kept the ball at the top of the key before driving in on the right side of the lane and scoring with just 2.3 seconds on the clock. SDSU had no timeouts to stop the game, and could only get off a desperation half shot that wasn’t close to the basket.
LADY REBEL OF THE GAME: Young continues her outstanding freshman campaign, as the Las Vegas native posted a career-high tying 20 points and added 12 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season.
STAT OF THE GAME: UNLV dominated the boards with a 52-31 advantage, including 17-7 on the offensive boards. That helped the Lady Rebels post a 16-7 edge on second chance points.
QUOTEABLE – “It’s near the end of the season, both these teams have played a lot of games. San Diego State is a very well coached team, they have some really talented players and they wanted to win. They’ve gotten some kids back from injury in this series, we knew this was going to be a battle. And after playing so well yesterday, obviously the target was on our back even bigger today. It’s not always pretty, I don’t always love every single play, but sometimes you just have to find a way to win. Down eight to start the fourth quarter, I said we’re going to find out what we’re made of. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.” – UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque
LADY REBEL NOTES
* – UNLV’s seven-game road win streak is its longest since the 1994-95 squad won nine straight, part of an overall 18-game win streak that season..
* – UNLV’s 7-0 road record for the 2020-21 season is tied for fourth-best in the nation.
* – UNLV is now second in the nation in most free throws made this season with 349 for the year after going 23-of-27 for 85.2%. SDSU meanwhile was just 6-of-12.
* – All five Lady Rebels starters finished in double-figures, the first time that’s happened since a 77-73 double-overtime loss to UNR in the 2018 Mountain West Quarterfinals. This is the second time this season five UNLV players have finished in double-figures, along with the season-opening loss to Northern Arizona.
* – Johnson joined Young with a double-double thanks to 12 points and 10 rebounds. Also posting double-figures was Jade Thomas (13), Bailey Thomas (12) and Byrne (11).
* – UNLV won despite shooting 33.9% (21-of-62) from the floor while the Aztecs finished 29-of-67 (43.3%).
NEXT TIME OUT: UNLV will now have a long break as its originally scheduled games for this weekend were cancelled after San Jose State ended their season. The Lady Rebels will return to action with their final two games of the regular season on Feb. 25 and 27 at Fresno State.