LAS VEGAS (AP) — Desi-Rae Young scored 28 points and pulled down 17 rebounds to lead No. 21 UNLV to its 22nd win and second-straight NCAA Tournament with a 71-60 win over Wyoming on Wednesday night in the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game.
Essence Booker added 19 points for the Rebels (31-2), who are headed to the NCAA’s for the 10th time. Alyssa Frescas-Durazo added 12.
Young, the tournament MVP, or Booker seemed to have an answer every time the Cowgirls challenged, especially when Wyoming hit five-straight 3-pointers to cut a 13-point deficit in the middle of the third quarter to 50-49 late in the period. Booker hit a jumper and the Rebels took a 52-49 lead into the fourth quarter.
The lead got back up to 10 but a Tess Barnes 3 made it 61-55. Young then scored twice. Barnes made the Cowgirls 11th and last 3-pointer at the 2:29 mark to make it a seven-point game but Booker scored the final six points for UNLV.
“These girls know how to win,” third-year coach Linda La Rocque said. “They knew it was winning time, they know how to get defensive stops, get every rebound and execute on the offensive end. There was no doubt in my mind.”
Barnes scored 13 points for the Cowgirls (22-10), who were playing for their third NCAA berth. Emily Mellema and Grace Ellis both had 10. Leading scorer Allyson Fertig was held to half her average, scoring just seven as she battled foul trouble.
Wyoming scored the first basket of the game but never led after that, trailing 31-28 at the half.
Both coaches — Heather Ezell in her first year leading Wyoming after years as an assistant, an La Rocque — gave birth earlier in the season. They also played against each other in college, when La Rocque’s Stanford team beating Ezell’s and Iowa State 74-53 in the 2009 Elite Eight.