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Horrendous shooting dooms Lady Rebels in loss to Utah

The outcome had been decided. The only question was whether UNLV would make a second-half basket.

The Lady Rebels finally got one. Point guard Erica Helms’ layup with 5:41 left ended a streak of 17 minutes, 5 seconds without a field goal.

But it couldn’t erase one of the worst statistical games in the program’s history, a 51-35 loss to Utah on Wednesday night at Cox Pavilion.

Pahranagat Valley High School product Kalee Whipple led the Utes with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

It was UNLV’s second-lowest scoring total, just shy of the 33 points the Lady Rebels scored in a 66-point loss to UCLA in their inaugural 1974-75 season. UNLV shot 19.4 percent, second worst to a 19.1 percent performance in 1999 at Rice.

"Everybody started pressing," said Helms, who scored 17 points. "We just couldn’t get easy buckets."

The crazy part for the Lady Rebels (12-14, 5-7 Mountain West Conference) was that the game was there for the taking — Utah (15-9, 6-5) shot only 35.1 percent and didn’t score until nearly nine minutes had ticked off. But like so many of its shots, UNLV missed that opportunity — badly.

"I was thinking, ‘They’re giving us this game, and let’s attack them,’ " Lady Rebels coach Kathy Olivier said. "I felt like we were attacking them, but we just weren’t hitting shots."

It only got worse for UNLV, which went scoreless for 11:20 until Helms’ free throw with 11:26 remaining. It would be almost six minutes before her layup broke the field-goal drought.

The Lady Rebels couldn’t make outside shots and weren’t rewarded on drives to the basket. Only eight fouls were called in the first half, and the first foul in the second half wasn’t whistled until 5:10 had elapsed.

UNLV looked nothing like the team that had won four of five games.

"Nothing went our way," Olivier said. "We were attacking the basket and we didn’t get to the free-throw line."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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