One-stroke margin just enough to KO UNLV

All they could do was watch and wait.

The UNLV women’s golf team was up early Monday in Bradenton, Fla., not to play, but to follow the leaderboard at the NCAA women’s championship to see whether its season would continue. The Rebels, who were in 17th place when play was suspended Sunday because of darkness, needed to get to at least 15th place in order to compete in Monday’s final round of stroke play.

Three teams were still on the course ahead of UNLV when play resumed Monday, and the Rebels needed a collapse by at least two of them in order to move up. But UCLA and Wake Forest managed to play through while South Carolina did implode and failed to qualify.

As a result, UNLV finished in 16th place, one shot behind the 15th-place Bruins, its season over.

Southern California was in first place and will be the top seed in today’s match play. Duke was second followed by Baylor, Stanford, Arizona, Texas Tech, Tennessee and Washington. The eight remaining teams will play 36 holes today with the two surviving teams going head-to-head over 18 holes for the national championship Wednesday.

“It was an amazing year,” UNLV coach Amy Bush-Herzer said of a season in which the Rebels won the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invite, had runner-up finishes in the Dick McGuire Invitational and Ram Fall Classic and placed third in the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown at Stallion Mountain and the Arizona Wildcat Invitational.

“We had a hard-working group that didn’t let down,” Bush-Herzer said

While the Rebels were done as a team, their best player, senior All-America Dana Finkelstein, got to play one last round Monday at Concession Golf Club. Finkelstein was one of the top nine individuals whose team did not advance to play a fourth round so she teed off in the morning with her teammates forming a small but supportive gallery.

Finkelstein carded a 1-over-par 73 and finished tied for 18th place among individuals with a four-day total of 299. Alabama’s Emma Talley won the individual title with a total of 285, one shot in front of Arkansas’ Gaby Lopez.

Finkelstein, who set a school record with five tournament victories during her career, plans to turn pro and try to earn her LPGA Tour card through qualifying school this fall. She graduated with honors with a degree in kinesiological sciences.

“I’m going to miss her,” Bush-Herzer said of Finkelstein, arguably the greatest player in the 15-year history of the program. “She was a very special player and a special person. I’m so grateful for having had the opportunity to work with her and coach her.”

But though Finkelstein and fellow seniors Mayko Chwen Wang and Marguerite Swearingen are leaving, the program appears to be in good shape moving forward. Freshmen Mackenzie Raim and Harley Dubsky played well in their first year and they, along with sophomore Avery French, will anchor next year’s team.

“I’m very excited about our future,” Bush-Herzer said. “Dana’s going to go on and do great things but we return three of the five players who were here at nationals and we’ve got some very good players joining the program.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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