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Lackluster first half dooms Lady Rebels

After trailing Brigham Young by 12 points early in the second half, a hungry Lady Rebels squad pulled within two three times down the stretch.

But the Cougars answered each time they were threatened and held off UNLV en route to a 71-61 victory Wednesday at the Cox Pavilion.

UNLV fell behind by 14 points in an uninspired first half and never recovered in the Mountain West Conference opener for both schools.

“It’s conference time and the whole intensity level went up, and I felt like we weren’t ready for that,” Lady Rebels coach Kathy Olivier said. “We chipped away, but you can’t do that in the (MWC). … They just had a higher intensity level than we did, and it’s just unacceptable.”

The Lady Rebels (7-8) also struggled against the Cougars’ full-court press, turning the ball over 17 times.

“We looked surprised at their press, and we worked on it all week,” Olivier said.

UNLV point guard Erica Helms led the Lady Rebels with 18 points and five assists, Jamie Smith had 10 points and eight rebounds, and Markiell Styles scored 10 points.

BYU point guard Jazmine Foreman led all scorers with 19 points, reserve Coriann Wood had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Mindy Bonham added 11 points and nine assists.

Haley Hall and Foreman sank back-to-back 3-pointers to snap a 7-7 tie and give BYU (10-3) the lead for good at 13-7. Alexis Kaufusi then scored six of her 10 points in a 9-0 run that gave the Cougars a 23-9 advantage.

“We came in intense but didn’t come in as intense as they did,” Helms said. “If we matched their intensity from the beginning, it would’ve been a better outcome.”

After falling behind 34-22 early in the second half, UNLV went on a 17-7 run to make it a 41-39 game. The Lady Rebels also trailed 43-41 and 46-44 before BYU regained control with a 9-2 run, aided by four UNLV turnovers, that gave it a 55-46 lead.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or at 702-383-0354.

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