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Lady Rebels hold off Cowgirls for first MWC home victory

Cox Pavilion hasn’t been kind to the UNLV women’s basketball team since Mountain West Conference play tipped off last month.

But the Lady Rebels took advantage of Wyoming’s dreadful shooting Tuesday night and held off a late surge to post their first Mountain West home win, 62-56.

“We needed this,” UNLV coach Kathy Olivier said. “We’ve outworked our opponents for stretches, but not for an entire game. Tonight, we were able to do it for about 36 minutes, and we played smart. We were unselfish on offense. We were efficient and shared the ball, and that was the key.”

It also helped that the Cowgirls (13-7, 4-4 Mountain West) shot 29 percent, including 6-for-30 (20 percent) from 3-point range. The Lady Rebels, who rank last in the MWC in field-goal percentage at 34 percent, shot 35.8 percent.

Despite the victory, UNLV (10-12, 3-5 MWC) is in eighth place heading into the second half of league play.

The Lady Rebels opened a 31-18 lead in the first half, when Wyoming hit only 2 of 16 3-pointers.

The Cowgirls pulled within 43-35 with a 12-4 run early in the second half. But UNLV countered with a 13-4 spurt to push the lead back to double digits, at 56-39, with 6:47 to play.

Wyoming outscored the Lady Rebels 12-4 in the final four minutes to make things interesting.

“Wyoming’s a good team, and they have a lot of good shooters,” Olivier said. “But we did a good enough job of hanging in there, and it’s a big win for us.”

Freshman Kelli Thompson led UNLV with 18 points, and Jamie Smith had 10 points and 17 rebounds.

Wyoming’s Hillary Carlson had 16 points.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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