The Michigan women’s basketball team notched a win in the opening round of the NCAA tournament and here are three takeaways.
The Michigan women’s basketball team is aiming for its third straight trip to the Sweet 16 and the Wolverines took a step in the right direction with a 71-59 win over UNLV.
The Wolverines will likely face host team LSU in the second round of the tournament. LSU will take on Hawaii later today and the winner will play Michigan women’s basketball on Sunday.
Here are three takeaways from the Wolverines win.
Defense ruled the day
UNLV came in with one of the top offenses in the country and was one of the better 3-point shooting teams. However, the Wolverines held UNLV to 38 percent from the field and 28 percent from 3-point range, which was going to be the Rebels’ best hope of winning.
Michigan women’s basketball notched seven steals and blocked three shots and the strength of the Big Ten won out in this matchup.
Michigan used its advantage on the boards
UNLV had just one player that was 6 feet or taller. The Wolverines, on the other hand, have a host of players that are 6-foot-1 or taller and they used that to their advantage.
Michigan hasn’t been a standout team on the boards, but the Wolverines grabbed 12 offensive boards on Friday compared to six for the Rebels.
Michigan won the overall battle on the boards 39-29 and the Wolverines did a good job of using their size to their advantage.
Michigan’s seniors delivered
76 percent of Michigan’s points in the first-round win over UNLV came from its three senior starters: Maddie Nolan, Leigha Brown, and Emily Kiser.
Nolan knocked down four 3-pointers and connected on one early in the third quarter that helped the Wolverines build a double-digit lead in the second half.
Emily Kiser scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out six assists. Leigha Brown also scored 17 points and while she struggled a little from the field in the first half — starting 3-of-10 — she finished 3-of-6 and was money from the free throw line.
During a key stretch, Brown made two mid-range jumpers, and delivered an assist to Kiser inside and another to Nolan for a 3-ball. It was an impressive stretch and the Wolverines controlled the game from there on out.
Now, it’s about advancing on Sunday to another four-team tournament.