Lady Rebels advance to third straight Mountain West Championship

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UNLV’s Amarachi Kimpson (33) drives towards the basket during the Mountain West Conference tournament against Colorado St. on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 in Las Vegas. (Kalin Sipes/ Scarlet Gray Free Press)

No. 21-ranked UNLV Women’s basketball defeated the Colorado State Rams 62-52 on March 12 to advance to the Mountain West Championship.

“We have great, huge contributions from everyone,” UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque said. “And it takes kind of that grit and perseverance and composure to go out the window like this so that you can play three in three days.”

The freshman phenom Armarachi Kimpson led the Lady Rebels in points with 18 and made crucial drives to the hoop late in the game to help UNLV upend the Rams.

”[Advancing to the Mountain West Championship] means a lot to me,” Kimpson said. “It’s my first go around with these girls. I want to get to the championship, win, and realize what it takes to get there.”

UNLV started off with an 8- 0 run led by Desi-Rae Young controlling the paint and 3-pointers by Alyssa Brown and Alyssa Durazo-Frescas.

The forwards continued to stay efficient from the perimeter with a 3-pointer by Nneka Obiazor to extend the Lady Rebels lead to 13-2.

Kimpson put the Rebels ahead 16-5 with a splash from beyond the arc with just over 2:30 remaining in the quarter.

The Lady Rebels finished the quarter on top 16-7 holding the 2023 Mountain West Player of the Year, McKenna Hofschild, scoreless.

The Rams took Hofschild out early in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 16-11 with six minutes remaining in the half.

Scoggin gave UNLV momentum with a corner 3-pointer but the Rams kept the game within reach with Sanna Storm making a second chance layup midway into the second quarter.

Obiazor out of the media timeout created a 3-point play drawing a foul on a shot she made inside the paint to shift the momentum toward the Lady Rebels.

Hofschild splashed a 3-pointer for her first make of the game and the Rams kept the score within single digits against the Lady Rebels 24-19 with under two minutes in the half. 

Brown found Young cutting to the basket for the Lady Rebels last bucket of the first half however a jumper by Marta Leimane cut the UNLV lead to 26-21 going into the locker room.

Kiara Jackson led the Lady Rebels on a 9-0 scoring run out of the half scoring a 3-pointer and a turnaround jumper.

After the scoring run, Hofschild and the Rams started to heat up and cut the deficit to six points going into the fourth quarter.

The Rams carried the momentum into the fourth with Storm and Leimane knocking down jumpers to cut the UNLV lead to 41-39.

Brown continued to stay hot from the perimeter, knocking down another from deep to give the Lady Rebels a seven-point cushion with six minutes left in regulation.

The game stayed close with Colorado State responding with buckets from Leimane and Sydney Mech to make it a one score game with under four minutes remaining.

The momentum swung back to UNLV with drives to the basket by Brown and Kimpson to give the Lady Rebels a 10-point lead with just over two minutes in regulation.

“[Kimpson] is a really tough player to stop one-on-one. That’s what I think because I see it in practice,” La Rocque said. “She kind of has a way of just finding and sneaking her way to the rim. … I have all the trust and faith in her that if she’s not going to get a shot up, she’s going to make the right play.”

Hannah Ronsiek put the game right back into single digits with a corner 3-pointer to cut the deficit to seven.

Kimpson continued to dominate the paint in the fourth quarter drawing a foul and making both her foul shots.

Jackson sealed the deal for the Lady Rebels picking up a steal to send the Lady Rebels to the Mountain West Championship for a third season in a row.

Up Next

UNLV will take on the winner between San Diego State and Boise State for the Mountain West Championship on March 12 at 7:30 p.m.

“Our goal is to get to the championship… and we’re playing in the game,” La Rocque said.

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