UNLV vs. Creighton Round of 64 Preview | Three Keys

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UNLV Lady Rebels Head Coach Lindy La Rocque answers questions in a press conference before team practice. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong).

The No. 10 seed UNLV Women’s basketball team will take on the No. 7 seed Creighton Blue Jays in the Round of 64 of the Women’s NCAA championship tournament on March 23.

The two teams will play in Los Angeles, Calif., at the Pauley Pavilion on the No. 2 seed UCLA campus.

The Lady Rebels earned an automatic qualifier spot in the tournament by winning the Mountain West conference tournament. UNLV enters the tournament ranked as the No. 20 team in the nation with a 30-2 overall record and two wins against Power Five teams, including Oklahoma and Arizona.

The Blue Jays enter the matchup, placing second in the Big East conference and earning an at-large bid into the tournament with a resume that includes its No. 24 ranking in the AP Poll and 25-5 overall record.

With the matchup between UNLV and Creighton shaping up to be a star-studded top-25 matchup, here are the keys for each team to win.

UNLV No. 23 Desi-Rae Young practices with the Lady Rebels a day before their March Madness matchup against Creighton. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong).

3-point shooting

A deep run in the tournament for either of these two teams will depend on how good they are from beyond the arc. 

The 3-point ball is a significant part of both of the teams’ offenses, with Creighton averaging 8.8 3-pointers per game and UNLV averaging 7.9.

The players to watch out for from beyond the arc for the UNLV are Alyssa Durazo-Frescas and Ashley Scoggin. Another Lady Rebel with the hot hand from downtown is forward Alyssa Brown, who won the Mountain West tournament MVP, shooting 7-of-11 from 3-point range in tournament play.

The sharpshooters from deep for Creighton to keep an eye on are Lauren Jensen and Morgan Maly, who have combined for over 100 3-pointers this season.

“[Creighton] is such a good 3-point shooting team we’re not going to hold them to zero attempts,” UNLV head coach Lindy La Rocque said at a press conference on March 22.

Coach La Rocque emphasized the importance of not overcommitting to the deep ball despite Creighton’s ability to shoot from beyond the arc.

“We want to make some of their looks tough, but if they make a couple we’re not going to panic or change the game plan,” La Rocque said. “More than anything, I do not want to give up layups, because if you get way too spread out then they can make layups.” 

Turnovers 

The Lady Rebels and Blue Jays are in the top five in the nation in the statistical category of least turnovers per game. Both teams average less than 11 turnovers per game.

The fun fact is that neither is No. 1 in their conference. Colorado State ranks No. 1 in the nation, and Villanova ranks No. 1 in the Big East and No. 3 in the country.

Kiara Jackson is a key contributor to UNLV’s low turnover ratio. She leads the country in assist/turnover ratio with a 3.43 average per game.

In a game that one possession can determine, the team with more opportunities with the ball will have the upper hand.

Whose stars can rise above 

Desi-Rae Young is a player who does not just win teams games; she wins teams conferences. Now, she can lead the Lady Rebels to a March Madness run. 

Young averages roughly 18 points and nine rebounds per game. For UNLV to advance to the Round of 32, she must play at her best against Creighton.

Emma Ronsiek, Jensen, and Maly are the big three for the Blue Jays. They are also the only players on the team who average more than 10 points per game.

The big three for Creighton will show their presence on the court. They averaged 30 minutes per game on the court throughout the season. 

In the matchup between UNLV and Creighton, stars that step up to have big performances could be the difference in who advances.

Up Next

No. 10 seed UNLV will take on No. 7 seed Creighton at the Pauley Pavilion on March 23 at 4 p.m.

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