Albuquerque Journal

Michigan ends UNLV’s winning streak in first round

Aggies make history with win in WBI


BATON ROUGE, La. — Emily Kiser leads Michigan, by far, in the basketball equivalent of football helmet stickers for the number of winning plays she’s made this season — from diving for loose balls to taking charges.

There are more than 40 stickers in her locker now, according to coach Kim Barnes Arico — more than double the number of any teammate. And there will be more to come before the women’s NCAA Tournament is over.

Kiser had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Maddie Nolan added 18 points, and sixth-seeded Michigan beat 11th-seeded UNLV 71-59 in the first round on Friday, snapping the Rebels’ 22-game winning streak.

“Our team had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” said Barnes Arico, whose team had entered the tournament having lost three of four. “We lost a couple games down the stretch but we weren’t completely healthy.

“With everyone back, I think our players really have that confidence,” added Barnes Arico, whose team made the Elite Eight last season. “They also have that experience.”

Leigha Brown scored 17 points for the Wolverines (23-9), who 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.

UNLV “didn’t see the defense we play with — and the Big Ten plays with — night in and night out,” Brown said. “We knew that if were aggressive and punched first, it was going to be really hard for them to get into sets that they want.”

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.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the season that we’ve had,” UNLV coach Lindy La Rocque said. “Obviously this one stings and it’s going to be with us for a little bit.”

Essence Booker scored 16 points for UNLV.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: In Columbia, S.C., Zia Cooke scored 11 points as No. 1 South Carolina moved five wins away from a perfect season after opening the women’s NCAA Tournament with a 72-40 victory over No. 16 seed Norfolk State on Friday. All higher seeds won Friday except two SEC schools — Mississipp­i State beating Creighton 81-66 in an 11-vs.-6 pairing and Georgia winning 66-54 over Florida State in a 10-vs.-7 matchup.

AGGIES STILL PLAYING: In Lexington, Ky., this version of New Mexico State women’s basketball became the first in school history to win a postseason game, taking down the University of Illinois-Chicago 51-41, in the first round of the WBI.

New Mexico State (17-16) goes to the semifinal round against East Tennessee State on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Sylena Peterson’s 19 points lead the Aggies.

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