Lady Rebels shine on senior night
The final buzzer went off and the crowd filled the Cox Pavilion with cheers of excitement. The Lady Rebels saw one of their most supportive crowds of the season, with a crowd of 1,474 on Friday during their 80-68 win over in-state rival Nevada-Reno.
Friday’s game was also UNLV’s Senior Night, causing the crowd to be full of family members of the Lady Rebels’ four seniors: Mia Bell, Amanda Anderson, Rmanii Haynes and Fredi Moderegger.
“It’s always a great feeling to beat our rival, Reno,” said junior forward Alana Cesarz. “I’m really happy to get that done for our seniors.”
Cesarz was included in the starting lineup that was predominantly full of the four seniors, and recorded 20 points and five rebounds.
While on the court, all four seniors looked as if they were having the time of their lives. They knew it would be the last time they would ever play basketball in that gym.
“I was enjoying the moment,” Bell said.
“This is the last time I’ll experience this so I was just trying to take it all in. You don’t really realize how fast it all goes until it’s gone. I was just enjoying the moment with my team — they’re my sisters.”
Bell finished the night with a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists.
Two other Lady Rebels scored in double figures. Junior guard Danielle Miller recorded 14 points and Haynes recorded 11 points.
Throughout most of the game, UNLV had a substantial lead over the Wolf Pack. Heading into halftime, the Lady Rebels led 39-24.
But early in the second half, Nevada-Reno took advantage of a UNLV scoring drought. The Wolf Pack went on a 20-6 run to cut the lead to one, 45-44.
“The second half we got a little sloppy, but we kept it together and got a good win,” head coach Kathy Olivier said.
UNLV was up 54-52 with 8:47 to go, then proceeded to go on a quick 12-0 run to put the game away and improved to 15-0 all time against UNR in Las Vegas.
What really helped the Lady Rebels was their 3-point shooting. Compared to Nevada-Reno’s dismal 1-of-19 performance, UNLV went 6-of-14 from behind the line.
Now it’s on to the Mountain West Conference tournament for the Lady Rebels, who have been knocked out the last two years in a row to New Mexico.
“There were a lot of emotions going into this game seeing how it is the last time I play in this gym, but it’s a great feeling to be able to beat your rivals on Senior Night and to know that we have another game to go into on Monday,” Bell said.
The Lady Rebels clinched the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament and will be playing on the first set of games on Monday against conference newcomer San Jose State on Monday at 4:30 p.m. inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
The journey isn’t over for UNLV, nor is it for the seniors.
“They’ve been nothing but positive for us,” Olivier said. “They have each brought something different to the table, and we’re gonna miss each one of them. We talk about a sisterhood here, and they’re still gonna be apart of our family.”