By Hillary Wallace
In one of the last home games of the season, the women”s basketball team hopes to knock UNLV out of second place in the Mountain West Conference standings tonight at the Marriott Center.
After losing two conference road games last week, BYU is currently tied for third place with Wyoming in the MWC standings. The Cougars will capture second place with wins against UNLV and San Diego State this week.
BYU”s comeback from a 28-point deficit came up short in a 73-69 loss in the last meeting with UNLV.
“We did not play well against them in Vegas in the first half, but we played a lot better in the second half,” coach Jeff Judkins said.
The comeback built self-confidence for the players, proving they could fight back after being down so many points.
“We should of beat them the last time we played them,” senior forward Lisa Hansen said. “We just have to play team defense. That”s how we came back from a 28-point deficit.”
Judkins said one key against UNLV is handling the Rebels” defensive pressure. BYU struggled with the full-court press, giving UNLV easy shots in transition. The Rebels lead the MWC in steals and offensive rebounds.
“Once we break their pressure, we have to get into our offense and attack the basket,” Judkins said.
Freshman guard Jennie Overdiek said defense is also a key for the Cougars in handling the Rebels” top scorer, Constance Jinks, who is scoring 20 points and grabbing four rebounds a game.
“Jinks is a hard player to deal with because she is so athletic and explosive,” Judkins said.
UNLV swept Colorado State, Wyoming, and San Diego State at home, moving into second place behind Utah in the MWC.
Judkins said BYU can play with a smaller lineup because the Rebels” forwards are not as big inside as other teams in the conference.
He said sophomore forward Danielle Cheesman will give a good defensive effort against UNLV”s forward Sherry McCracklin, who scored 22 points against the Cougars in their first meeting. McCracklin averages 11 points and eight rebounds per game.
For BYU at this time of the year, Judkins said a chance at a MWC title as well as a bid for the NCAA tournament is a motivating factor for winning home games and the rest of conference play.
“The bottom line is if we can get up for the next five games and realize we can win, it will give us a chance to go to the NCAA tournament,” Judkins said.
The game starts at 7 p.m. at the Marriott Center.