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‘Finding ways to win’: Lady Rebels remain Mountain West favorites

UNLV women’s basketball team remains the team to beat in the Mountain West past the midpoint of conference play.

The Lady Rebels are 20-2 overall with seven games remaining in their regular season. They’re 10-1 in the Mountain West, with a solid edge on second-place Wyoming (9-3).

UNLV is the clear favorite to win the conference title for the third year in a row. But one of its best players said there’s still room to improve heading into a home game against Colorado State at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cox Pavilion.

“I think we have a lot more to work on to reach our full potential,” senior center Desi-Rae Young said. “We’re here and we’re getting better every single day.”

The Lady Rebels should be challenged against Colorado State (15-8, 6-6).

The two are the highest-rated Mountain West teams in the NCAA’s NET rankings. UNLV is No. 35. Colorado State is No. 101.

The last three meetings between the teams have been decided by five points or less.

“Conference teams know us the best,” coach Lindy La Rocque said. “Games are getting harder and harder, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re getting closer and closer to March and postseason play, and the intensity of every possession is high.”

One focus for the Lady Rebels on Wednesday will be defending Colorado State guard McKenna Hofschild, the Mountain West’s leading scorer. She’s averaging 25.9 points per game in conference play and also leads the Mountain West with 6.5 assists per game.

Hofschild scored 34 points when UNLV held on for an 83-78 road win Jan. 6.

“We just got to defend (Hofschild) as a team,” junior point guard Kiara Jackson said. “She likes to push in transition so we got to make sure you build a wall and keep her in front.”

One reason for the Lady Rebels to remain confident is their defense. They’ve held four straight opponents under 60 points.

“We’re finding ways to win, that’s the biggest thing,” La Rocque said. “Not every game is going to be a blowout, and that’s OK. Sometimes people think we play bad because we don’t beat a team by 20 points, but that’s not always the case, especially late in the year.”

UNLV is still winning its conference games by an average of 17.2 points.

La Rocque said the keys for the team down the stretch are getting multiple players involved on offense and continuing to win the rebounding battle. The Lady Rebels are averaging 11.7 more rebounds per game than their Mountain West opponents.

“The intensity of these games are going to stay,” La Rocque said. “We want to thrive in that kind of atmosphere. It’s not being too big at the moment and just doing what needs to be done.”

UNLV is currently projected as a No. 7 seed by ESPN women’s bracketologist Charlie Creme.

La Rocque said she doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the NET rankings or bracketology projections. There’s still a lot of work ahead.

“We have to keep winning games and doing our job. … Those kinds of things take care of themselves,” La Rocque said.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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