Arizona Women's Basketball

Arizona shoots cold from field, loses 72-53 at UNLV

UNLV’s Desi-Rae Young had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Rebels against Arizona (UNLV photo)

Arizona struggled from the field, shooting 37.5 percent, including 2 of 15 from 3-point range, in a 72-53 loss at UNLV on Saturday.

UNLV (8-0) won its first game against a Power Five opponent under coach Lindy LaRocque, who is in her fourth season with the Rebels.

Sahuaro graduate Alyssa Brown had 10 rebounds to lead the Rebels in their 42-29 rebounding edge in the game.

The Wildcats (6-2) were led by Kailyn Gilbert’s 21 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Esmery Martinez finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but she also committed seven turnovers.

Arizona, playing its first game in 12 days, had 14 turnovers to go with its 10 assists.

The Wildcats never recovered after UNLV went on a 10-0 run to take a 28-13 lead with 8:18 left in the second quarter.

“We had a lack of focus, a lack of toughness and a lack of intensity,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said during the postgame show on KCUB (1290-AM). “I mean, we’re a lot bigger (and) more athletic and we let them do whatever they wanted. They took rebounds off our heads, we never had three people on the boards.

“Just all those things and you’re not gonna win games like that.”

The Rebels’ lead mushroomed to 37-17 with 2:41 remaining until halftime.

Arizona could not get closer than 14 points in the second half after trailing 40-20 at the break.

Desi-Rae Young and Kiara Jackson each had 21 points for UNLV. Young contributed nine rebounds and Jackson seven assists.

Barnes said Arizona settled for perimeter shots instead of taking advantage of the strength of Martinez and Breya Cunningham inside.

“Breya is a really good scorer for us inside, but she never got to a rhythm,” Barnes said. “I think they put a lot of bodies around her. And then we were passing out, settling for jumpers.

“We should have continued to go into the paint because first half we were one for 11 (from 3-point range). Second half, we were one for (four).”

Cunningham missed the only two shots she tried. Fellow post player Maya Nnaji did not fare much better, making 2 of 4 shots.

Helena Pueyo, a fifth-year senior captain, missed the only four shots she took from the field in a team-high 38 minutes, including 0 of 3 from beyond the arc.

“I needed to find a way to get Helena open; she played 38 minutes and had to take some tough shots, but I think it was just a rough night,” Barnes said. “We have to learn. You have to have better toughness,

“And you have to have better focus from the beginning of games. When you have a 20-point deficit at half, even if you come back, it’s hard to come back from that type of deficit at someone’s home.”

Arizona returns to McKale Center on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to play UC San Diego.

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