Michelle Plouffe poured in a game-high 26 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to lead Utah to a 66-59 victory over UNLV on Tuesday night before a crowd of 562 at the Thomas &Mack Center.
The Lady Rebels (2-3) cut a 10-point second-half deficit to two in the final minutes but never led after falling behind 13-2 to start the game.
“Utah is a good basketball team, and we didn’t come out with the aggressiveness that they came out with,” UNLV coach Kathy Olivier said. “We did much better in the second half … and then we couldn’t sustain it down the stretch.
“We can’t take 10 minutes to get going, especially against a team this good, if we want to be able to come away with a win.”
Danielle Miller, who led UNLV with 16 points, made a jumper to make it 59-54 with 3:15 left and Alana Cesarz sank a 3-pointer to close the gap to 59-57 with 2:30 to play.
Plouffe answered with a jumper with 1:51 left and then came up with two of her game-high three steals as the Lady Rebels went scoreless on four straight possessions. Malia Nawahine sealed the win for Utah with three free throws in the final minute.
Plouffe made 11 of 17 shots, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range, and Ciera Dunbar added 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting as Utah (2-2) shot 52 percent from the field (26-for-50).
Aley Rohde added 10 points for UNLV, Cesarz scored nine and Amie Callaway totaled a team-high eight rebounds.
Utah controlled the glass, with a 33-26 edge in rebounds, and outscored UNLV 36-26 in the paint.