The UNLV women’s basketball team led by double digits in the first and second halves, but lost to Cal State Bakersfield 66-63 to open the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Honolulu.
The Lady Rebels (5-7) were up 60-59 with a minute remaining but got outscored 7-3 the rest of the way. The Roadrunners’ Tyonna Outland tied the game on a free throw, and Amber Williams’ jumper gave Bakersfield a 62-60 lead.
After Jamie Smith hit 1 of 2 free throws for UNLV, Outland hit two foul shots to make it 64-61. The Rebels’ Ta’Nitra Byrd then made two more free throws to close the gap to one before Outland hit two more from the line with seven seconds left to make it 66-63.
Mia Bell missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer as UNLV lost its fifth straight.
UNLV went on a 21-5 first-half run to take a 35-19 advantage, then gave up eight straight points to lead 35-27 at halftime. The Lady Rebels pushed the lead back to 11 at 41-30 early in the second half before the Roadrunners began chipping away, paced by an 11-0 run — all by Breana Fields — that gave them a 50-47 lead with 10:26 left. The lead changed hands eight more times.
The Lady Rebels were without junior forward Lenita Sanford, who was indefinitely suspended for violating team rules and standards, coach Kathy Olivier announced before the game.
Sanford, in her first year at UNLV, had started all 11 games heading into the Cal State Bakersfield contest, averaging 8.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.