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UNLV crushes UNR, wins first Silver State Series since 2020

Lindy La Rocque is from Las Vegas. The UNLV women’s basketball coach’s roots in Southern Nevada have always been an important part of her journey and experience.

So for La Rocque, beating UNR means just a little bit more. She’s sure other Las Vegas natives feel the same way.

“It is extra special to take a clean sweep in basketball and paint the cannon red,” she said.

UNLV won the Silver State Series against UNR 31.5-16.5 for the 2022-23 season. It’s the eighth time in 11 years the Rebels have prevailed in the intrastate competition, which was created for 2012-13.

While UNLV has historically been the dominant team in the rivalry, the 2023 Silver State Series victory is the Rebels’ first since 2020. The Rebels’ 31.5-point total is the third-highest for either school in the series.

Athletic director Erick Harper said he’s glad UNLV and UNR can share a passionate rivalry and said he’s excited to have the state bragging rights back.

“Our student-athletes want to beat every team equally,” Harper said. “But it’s something that’s nice to say — that we won the Silver State Series.”

The series was created by former Gov. Brian Sandoval and was originally called the Governor’s Series before it became the Silver State Series in 2018.

Head-to-head competitions between UNLV and UNR teams are worth three points. Sports that don’t feature opportunities for direct competition are judged by who finishes higher in the Mountain West. The school with the better academic progress rate scores among its teams gets another three points.

In the event of a tie, the holder of the Fremont Cannon wins.

UNLV took an early lead this season. The volleyball team beat the Wolf Pack 3-1 in Reno on Oct. 22 behind 16 kills from junior outside hitter Gabrielle Arretche-Ramos. Five days later, the UNLV women’s soccer team stormed back at home after trailing by a goal to beat UNR 3-1, punctuated by a 55th-minute tap-in by freshman forward Savannah Nichols.

On Nov. 26, the UNLV football team snapped its six-game losing streak by beating UNR 27-22 at Allegiant Stadium to win the Battle for the Fremont Cannon for the first time since 2019.

The Rebels’ success also translated to the hardwood. The men’s basketball team swept UNR for a second consecutive season, winning 68-62 at the Thomas & Mack Center on Jan. 28 before a 24-point game by fifth-year guard EJ Harkless lifted the Rebels over the Wolf Pack 69-67 in overtime March 4 in Reno.

The women’s basketball team went a step further, defeating the Wolf Pack three times. Junior center Desi-Rae Young scored 23 points to guide the Lady Rebels to an 80-57 win at Cox Pavilion on Jan. 28. An 18-point outing by sophomore guard Alyssa Durazo-Frescas helped the Lady Rebels overcome a slow start in Reno to win 71-66 on Feb. 28 and finish UNLV’s perfect run through the Mountain West.

The Lady Rebels then emphatically eliminated the Wolf Pack 84-47 in the conference tournament quarterfinals.

“We take a lot of pride as an athletics department in being the best college athletics program in the state,” La Rocque said.

UNLV secured its hold on the state rivalry as the year continued. The women’s swimming and diving team beat UNR 166-133 in Reno on Jan. 20. UNLV also picked up points from its women’s tennis team, which swept UNR 4-0 at home April 21, and its men’s golf team, which finished third at the Mountain West championships in Tucson, Arizona, to UNR’s ninth.

Additionally, the UNLV baseball team won its series against UNR 2-1. Sophomore shortstop Paul Myro IV had three hits and three RBIs to guide UNLV to a 9-5 win in the rubber match April 8.

“Happy for the athletes that made this happen,” UNLV baseball coach Stan Stolte said. “Anytime any of our sports play the Wolf Pack, you know you’re getting their best effort.”

UNLV’s final points came from having higher APR scores.

The Wolf Pack’s points came from women’s indoor and outdoor track, women’s cross country, softball and women’s golf. UNLV and UNR split the men’s tennis series.

“There’s a lot for Rebels’ fans to look forward to as we build upon these successes,” La Rocque said.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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