LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The New Mexico Lobos were looking for a third conference win Wednesday evening against UNLV (5-11, 3-1 MW), but a slow start and a season-high 22 turnovers doomed the Lobos in a 78-56 loss.
New Mexico (7-8, 2-2 MW) was never able to recover from the slow start as the Lady Rebels tallied 27 points off turnovers for the game.
“We came out flat in those first four minutes and really started slow, coach Yvonne Sanchez said. "That slow start with that many turnovers really hurt us tonight. You can’t expect to win on the road in this league when you’re turning the ball over that much.”
UNLV got what it needed from a variety of players. Alana Cesarz had a game-high 15 points, and fellow post player Aley Rohde tallied seven rebounds and blocked three shots. Guard Mia Bell was the distributor for the Lady Rebels with 10 assists to go along with her nine points, four rebounds and three steals.
That balance in productivity rang true in the team’s shooting performance as the Lady Rebels shot 30-of-56 (53.6 percent) for the game. The home team shot even better from beyond the arc as it finished 7-of-11 (63.6 percent) from deep.
New Mexico was led by Sara Halasz and Deeva Vaughn with 11 points apiece. They were also the team leaders in field-goal percentage. They combined to finish 9-of-18 (50.0 percent) from the field while the rest of the team shot 13-of-36 (36.1 percent). Alexa Chavez matched her career high in rebounds with a game-high eight boards.
The Lobos started slowly, connecting on just one of their first five shots from the field as the Lady Rebels jumped out to a 13-2 lead at the first media timeout. The UNM defense dug in and held UNLV to 13 points in the next eight minutes. The tightened defense fueled a 12-6 run by the Lobos over 4 1/2f minutes to cut the deficit to 19-14 with 11 minutes to halftime.
UNLV answered with a 14-5 run over the final five minutes of the half to regain control of the game. The Rebels' 17-point halftime lead would hold for the entire night; the Lobos couldn't get any closer than 14 points in the second half. The Lady Rebels were able to maintain their lead behind 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) from the field in the second half.
“I give credit to Kathy Olivier and her staff because UNLV came out and played one of their best games of the season," Sanchez said. "However, we will have to regroup because it doesn’t get any easier. We have Fresno State, the conference leaders, coming into The Pit on Saturday.”
“We are excited to return home to The Pit. It’s going to be our 'Pack The Pit' game on Saturday against Fresno State, which should create a great environment for that game," Sanchez said. "I can’t wait to see our fans come out and support this team because these kids are playing hard and are deserving of playing in front such great fans.”
New Mexico host Fresno State at 2 p.m., Saturday on Bob King Court at The Pit. It’s the program’s annual “Pack The Pit” game with all tickets on sale for just $2.