BATON ROUGE, La. – Emily Kiser had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Maddie Nolan added 18 points, and sixth-seeded Michigan beat 11th-seeded UNLV 71-59 on Friday in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament, snapping the Rebels’ 22-game winning streak.
Leigha Brown scored 17 points for Michigan (23-9), which had lost three of its previous four games. The Wolverines used their advantages in size and physicality to build and keep a double-digit lead for much of their opening game in the Greenville 2 region.
Guard Laila Phelia, wearing a brace on her left knee and playing in her just her third game since missing seven with a leg injury, exerted her influence on the game defensively, grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds to go with her eight points – less than half of her scoring average of 16.9.
The Wolverines will face either third-seeded LSU or 14th-seeded Hawaii in the second round.
UNLV (31-3) came up one short of the longest winning streak in program history. Its Mountain West Tournament title victory had tied a mark reached previously in the 1978-79 and 1989-90 seasons.
The Rebels came in unbeaten (27-0) when scoring 69 or more points – a total they could not reach against a Michigan team that outrebounded them 41-31.
Essence Booker scored 16 points for UNLV, while Justice Ethridge and Desi-Rae Young each scored 11.
Michigan took the lead for good when Phelia’s offensive rebound set up Brown’s second-chance layup to make it 9-7 in the first quarter.
The Wolverines led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter before Kenadee Winfrey and Ethridge each hit 3s during an 8-0 run that helped UNLV get as close as five points.
Michigan led 28-20 at halftime. The Wolverines took a 17-point lead when Kiser scored eight points on a free throw, two layups and a 3 during a 12-0 run that made it 48-31 late in the third period. UNLV only got as close as nine points after that.
UNLV: Shot 28% (7 of 25) from 3-point range, well below its season-long average of 33.8% coming in. … Shot 38% (23 of 60) overall, also well below its 46.3% average for the season.
Michigan: Converted 12 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points. … Finished with a 20-14 advantage in points off turnovers.