Kathy Olivier’s UCLA basketball teams didn’t rely on the 3-point shot, and she said her UNLV squads won’t, either.
Not that anyone could tell Friday night at Cox Pavilion.
In Olivier’s debut at her alma mater, the Lady Rebels shot and shot and shot 3-pointers, making a school record-tying 12 in a 92-71 victory over Sacramento State.
The Lady Rebels, who led throughout, shot 27 3-pointers, the third-highest attempt total in UNLV history. The 12 made tied the school record set against Cal Poly in 2002 and South Alabama in 1988.
This also was the first time UNLV broke 90 points since beating Canisius 92-66 on Jan. 2, 2005.
“I actually thought we shot the ball well, but I don’t think we’re going to get that many clean looks against better opponents,” Olivier said. “What I was really impressed with was our extra pass. We made an extra pass to get that clean look. And I thought our team did a good job of making the good reads.”
Led by guard Brittany Halberg’s 22 points, five players scored in double figures. Halberg also led the 3-point charge, making 6 of 9.
“It was pretty much wide open all night, so I didn’t have to do a lot of work to shoot it,” Halberg said.
Guard Erica Helms had 19 points and six assists, center Shamela Hampton totaled 18 points and 12 rebounds, guard/forward Jamie Smith finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, and guard India Chaney scored 11 points.
It was a coming out for Smith, Hawaii’s Gatorade Player of the Year last season, who showed why she was such a good get for UNLV, which beat out Utah. She made 3 of 5 3-pointers and nearly registered a double-double.
But this was Olivier’s night. The former UNLV star waited for this game since April when she replaced Regina Miller, the coach the previous 10 seasons. Olivier spent the past 15 seasons as UCLA’s coach, going 142-128 with five NCAA Tournament appearances.
Her daughter, Alexis, and mother, Marilyn, flew in for this game, and an enthusiastic crowd of 1,046 greeted Olivier and her team.
More important, Olivier kept alive the streak of every Lady Rebels coach winning the first game on the job.
“It was hard to stay focused, as much as I’m a professional,” Olivier said. “But there was so much going on.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914.UNLV — 92 SACRAMENTO STATE — 71
KEY: The Lady Rebels made a team record-tying 12 3-pointers.