Katie Powell is the first to admit that UNLV expected to defeat Wright State in its season opener Friday night.
But that expectation was quickly flipped on its side, as the Raiders seized an early lead and never trailed in a 68-52 win over the Lady Rebels at Cox Pavilion.
“We sure did (expect to win), and I think that’s why we were kind of flat and had low energy because we expected to get a win, but it just doesn’t happen like that,” Powell said.
With their top two scorers from the past two seasons — the departed Brooke Johnson and Dakota Gonzalez — in attendance, the Lady Rebels turned in a poor shooting effort. They shot 14 of 50 (28 percent) from the field, went 3 of 13 on 3-pointers and hit 21 of 33 free throws.
“I don’t think that’s our strong suit this year,” Powell said of shooting. “I think inside, inside, inside, and I was not aggressive and we can do way better postwise. But we’ve got to realize what our strong suit is — going inside — and since they were playing a zone, that’s hard to do.”
UNLV tied the score 24-24 with 3:22 left in the first half, but the Raiders (1-0) then went on an 11-0 run to end the half. The Lady Rebels trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half.
Coach Kathy Olivier said UNLV hasn’t worked much against a zone and that she needed to do a better job preparing the team for that defense.
“We feel like we have an older team with a lot of experience, but we just didn’t play like that,” Olivier said. “We’re getting ready to face some very good opponents, and I’m going to make sure that we’re more prepared.”
The Lady Rebels also must do a better job taking care of the ball. They committed 13 turnovers in the first half before settling down and finishing with 15. Wright State scored 17 points off turnovers.
“That’s what we were talking about in the locker room is that we do have a lot of new people and we’re super deep, so we need to work on it more in practice,” said Powell, the only Lady Rebel in double figures with 14 points.