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‘Gone so fast’: Lady Rebels senior reaches milestone in final game

LOS ANGELES — It happened on a putback layup early in the third quarter that snapped a nearly four-minute scoring drought for the UNLV women’s basketball team.

Senior center Desi-Rae Young scored the opening basket of the second half, which further etched her name into the Lady Rebel record book.

The basket made Young the second UNLV player to surpass 2,000 career points. The 6-foot-1-inch Desert Oasis graduate is all by herself in second on the program’s all-time scoring list with 2,017 points, behind only Linda Frohlich (2,355).

Despite a 30-point effort from Young, Saturday was her final time wearing a UNLV uniform. The No. 10-seeded Lady Rebels lost to No. 7 Creighton 87-73 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

“She came to play today,” UNLV coach Lindy La Rocque said. “I don’t know if I could ask more of her. She was pretty efficient. I wanted to give her that moment.”

Young leaves UNLV having helped the program to its most successful run since the 1990s. She came in as a freshman in La Rocque’s first year, and in the duo’s four-year run, Young was the conference player of the year twice, including this year, and was an All-Mountain West selection the last three years.

With Young leading the way, UNLV has won the last three Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles and appeared in the last three NCAA Tournaments, which Young said was the accomplishment she’s most proud of.

“This is going to be my last game, but I’m extremely happy and proud of all we’ve done,” Young said. “I’m just thankful that I was able to make history. Being here since 2020, coach Lindy’s first year, it was uphill from there. I’m just extremely proud.”

Young added nine rebounds on a 15-of-19 shooting effort. She checked out with 2:16 left in the fourth quarter to cheers and a standing ovation from a full UNLV contingent in section 114.

Young has ”had an amazing impact (on the program),” junior point guard Kiara Jackson said. “We wouldn’t be here without her, and I’m going to miss her.”

UNLV was one of two Division I offers Young had out of Desert Oasis. La Rocque recalled the two clicking right away when they were able to meet in person when COVID-19 restrictions eased in 2020.

“I’ve said this before and I’ll continue to say this: Lindy La Rocque is someone that I want to be,” Young said.

Young was named conference freshman of the year in 2021 as she immediately asserted herself as one of the conference’s most dominant players. She continued to anchor UNLV as it established itself as the team to beat in the Mountain West and started to become familiar with playing big games in March.

“We’ve won 60 games in the last two seasons. That’s amazing,” Young said.

As La Rocque and Young had one final emotional embrace on the floor, the UNLV coach said she couldn’t believe this would be the last time coaching one of her first recruits.

“I love coaching that kid,” La Rocque said. “We came in as freshmen together. I’d like to think that we’ve kind of grown up alongside one another, too. It’s just gone so fast. She’s a special player.”

Familiar last name

Saturday was UNLV’s first game against Creighton, but one Bluejay was somewhat familiar with the Lady Rebels, thanks in part to her sister.

Bluejays senior forward Emma Ronsiek’s younger sister is Hannah Ronsiek, a sophomore guard at Colorado State. Creighton coach Jim Flanery said he used that to his benefit.

“(Colorado State) played UNLV three times, so (Hannah) had their scouting report on top of our scouting report,” Flanery said. “(Emma) had a little bit of an advantage.”

Emma Ronsiek scored 23 points and made 9 of 18 shots in the win.

“I’m really proud of (Emma),” Flanery said. “She played unbelievably well in that second half.”

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

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