By Luke Johnson:
Internet celebrity Dakota Gonzalez and Mountain West Conference MVP front runner Dezz Ramos battled back-and-forth like two heavyweight boxers slugging it out at the San Jose State Event Center Saturday.
Gonzalez’s career-high 31 points — along with 10 rebounds — was enough to give UNLV (17-8, 8-5 MWC) the edge, 63-55, in a contest that saw seven lead changes and four ties in the second half.
“[My teammates] give me so much confidence to shoot that ball, to be aggressive and they’re always in their spots,” Gonzalez said. “They’re super discipled about that and it helps me out.”
Gonzalez and her twin sister Dylan Gonzalez have gained fame on Instagram for their careers in basketball, singing and modeling and combine for 1.95 million followers. One of their most notable followers is hip-hop sensation Drake.
“We just look at them as any other players,” Ramos said. “When they get going, they get going. And that’s what Dakota did.”
Ramos ranks number one in the Mountain West with 21.9 PPG and led SJSU (8-16, 5-7) with 22 points in defeat Saturday. She is also among the conference leaders with 5.1 APG, but did not produce any against the Runnin’ Rebels.
UNLV had a game-high 15-point lead (30-15) with less than four minutes remaining in the second quarter. But Dakota Gonzalez was benched for getting into foul trouble — which resulted in SJSU scoring nine points unanswered to close out the first half (30-24).
The Spartans kept their momentum rolling after halftime and captured the lead (36-34) with five minutes left in the third period off a Ramos three pointer.
“San Jose, they’re a run-and-gun kinda team,” Dakota Gonzalez said. “They love to just push the pace. They score about 75 points a game, so we were kinda expecting them to definitely push that momentum.”
The Rebels’ slowed the tempo of the game in the final quarter and their rebounding proved to be too much for the Spartans as they led 47-24 on the boards. UNLV also outrebounded SJSU 20-9 offensively which provided 17-second-chance points.
“Fifty-four shots I think is a season low for us in terms of possessions,” SJSU head coach Jamie Craighead said. “Basically it comes down to who’s better: Dakota or Dezz? And Dakota was better today.”