Michigan handed the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels their third loss of the season in the NCAA Tournament on Friday by a score of 71-59. Maddie Nolan got hot from distance, and a strong Michigan defense lifted the Wolverines to a comfortable first-round victory.
Emily Kiser and Leigha Brown were stellar as ever with 18 and 17 points, respectively. UM formed a new Big Three on Friday with Nolan, Kiser and Brown combined for 53 points in the win.
The first quarter began with the teams trading buckets through the first media timeout. Emily Kizer started the game with a 3-pointer, but UNLV showed signs of a tough defense that could potentially cause problems for the Michigan offense.
Coming out of the first quarter media timeout, the teams were tied at seven, but Michigan began to establish a comfortable lead. Liga Brown scored six straight points, and Elise Stuck and Layla Felia added buckets of their own late in the opening quarter.
Through 10 minutes, Michigan held an eight-point advantage over the Runnin’ Rebels, who came into the NCAA tournament matchup on a 22-game win streak.
The Wolverines’ lead grew to 13 in the second quarter, but a short run by UNLV brought the No. 11 seed Running Rebels back within eight points at halftime.
UNLV stormed out of the locker room as the third quarter began. It scored eight points on its first four possessions, and the Michigan lead was reduced to as few as three points.
Brown, Saffron and Nolan were all too numerous, however, as Michigan’s talent rose above UNLV’s pace. The Runnin’ Rebels came up short, but Kim Barnes Eriko’s team retained the No. 11 seed in a 71–59 victory.
Michigan has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season, and on Sunday it will look to book a trip to its third consecutive Sweet 16. The Wolverines would face the winner of No. 3 seed LSU and No. 14 seed Hawaii.
The hosting LSU Tigers, led by National Player of the Year candidate Angel Reese, have an electric offense. If they win, the third-seeded Tigers will have hometown advantage on Sunday against the Wolverines.
Tip times for Sunday’s second-round matchups have yet to be determined.
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