5 things to watch as No. 2-seed UNLV Lady Rebels open MW tourney

Updated March 4, 2018 - 4:30 pm

Could the Lady Rebels be dancing this year?

Only time will tell.

The Lady Rebels enter the Mountain West tournament as the No. 2 seed. They will have a first-round bye as the Mountain West women’s tournament begins Monday, and if things break their way this week, could find themselves with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Here are five things to watch:

Will the Lady Rebels make a run?

UNLV women’s basketball Mountain West Las Vegas Review-Journal

After closing the regular season with wins in five of their last six games, the Lady Rebels sit in a good position to potentially make a run.

UNLV and Boise State tied atop the Mountain West in the regular season, though the Lady Rebels will be the No. 2 seed by virtue of the Broncos holding the tiebreaker.

The Lady Rebels will take on the winner of Nevada and San Diego State on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

UNLV split the season series with Nevada — winning at home and losing on the road — and beat San Diego State twice.

The Lady Rebels have lost to Fresno State in the conference tournament semifinals in each of the past two seasons.

Local players to watch

UNLV has two locals that will appear in the tournament — starter Paris Strawther, a Liberty graduate, and Kennedy Wharton, a Valley High graduate.

Strawther contributed 9.2 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Lady Rebels this season in 25.6 minutes per game. Wharton has averaged one point in limited action.

New Mexico’s Cherise Beynon, who averages 16.5 points, is a Canyon Springs graduate, while San Jose State’s Taylor Turney went to Liberty and Nevada’s Delaney Gosse attended the Meadows School.

Repeat for Boise State?

The Broncos seek their third trip to the NCAA tournament in four years.

Boise State won the conference tournament in 2015 and again last year, edging Fresno State in the championship game.

The Broncos were picked as the preseason coaches and media’s top team and ended their regular season with seven straight wins, including a four-point victory at Wyoming to overtake the Cowgirls and move into a first-place tie with UNLV.

No clear-cut favorite

It’s anybody’s title.

Colorado State’s reign of dominance in the Mountain West has ended, leaving the door open for any number of teams to take a run at the title.

The Broncos and Lady Rebels split their games this season, as did Wyoming and Boise State. The Lady Rebels lost their only game to Wyoming.

Colorado State and Fresno State are in the mix, too, right behind the top three teams in the conference.

Will Johnson repeat?

Senior guard Brooke Johnson averaged 16.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in last year’s Mountain West tournament, earning her a spot on the all-tourney team.

It seems probable that UNLV would have at least one selection to the team — most likely Johnson or junior Katie Powell — but possibly more depending on whether the Lady Rebels make a run or not.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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