NOVEMBER HAWAI’I TOURNAMENT HIGHLIGHT UNLV’S WOMEN’S BASKETBALL 2014-15 SCHEDULE
Lady Rebels will play four of the first six games of the season at home
A trip to the Aloha State for an early season tournament and three games against teams from the power five conferences are among the highlights of the 2014-15 UNLV women’s basketball schedule, which was released by the athletic department on Thursday. Overall there will be a potential nine games against teams that reached the postseason in 2013-14.
The 29-game regular-season slate, includes UNLV playing a total of two home non-conference doubleheaders along with the Runnin’ Rebels in the Thomas & Mack Center. The first doubleheader will be in the season opener for both teams, as the Lady Rebels will host Texas A&M Corpus Christie on Friday, Nov. 14. The second doubleheader will be the final home game before Christmas, a Dec. 17 game with Big 10 member Northwestern.
“I felt we did a good job of setting up our early schedule to give us four of six at home to start the year,” said UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier. “We always play a competitive schedule, but also wanted to give our young team with five newcomers a chance to come together at home before we reach the toughest part of the non-conference portion.
“Our key is to have our returnees playing with confidence and establish good leadership early in the season,” said Olivier. “That will set the path for a successful season in Mountain West play. I also feel we have a group this year that understands how important it is to defended your home court, and we look forward to some of the challenges from the teams we host.”
The opener against TAMU-Corpus Christie will be the first between the two schools since a two-game series in 2001-02 and 2002-03, both won by the Lady Rebs. That’s followed by another home contest, a Nov. 17 contest with Loyola Marymount to close out a two-game series, as the Lions won last year’s matchup in Los Angeles.
UNLV will then go on the road for the first time for one of the highlights of the schedule, a two-game tournament at the University of Hawai’i on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23. The event will have preset matchups, with the Lady Rebs facing Missouri for the first time in school history on Nov. 21, and the host Rainbow Wahine on Nov. 23. This will be UNLV’s first trip to Hawai’i since the 2010-11 season, when the Lady Rebels claimed the Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Invitational title, which was also the last meeting with Hawaii. The Wahine (WNIT) are the first postseason team from a year ago the Lady Rebs will face.
UNLV then returns to Las Vegas to host its own regular season tournament, the annual Lady Rebel Round-Up on Thanksgiving weekend. Delaware State will be the first opponent for UNLV on Nov. 29, while Northern Illinois and South Dakota State (2014 WNIT Final Four) will play in the second game. The consolation and championship games will be held on Nov. 30. UNLV and Northern Illinois have played just once before, in 1989, while it would be the first meeting against Delaware State and South Dakota State.
The Lady Rebels then hit the road for the following two weeks as the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo moves into the UNLV facilities. The first weekend will be a revisit of former conference travel partners, with UNLV playing a pair of games in the Beehive State. First will be a Dec. 4 contest with BYU in Provo, followed by a Dec. 6 game against Utah in Salt Lake City. That road trip mirrors the same road trip the Lady Rebels took in MW play in the first six years of the league, and UNLV was one of only two schools that ever achieved a sweep of that road swing. Both games are rematches of contests in Las Vegas a year ago, both that came down to the final minute before results in two close losses for UNLV. The Lady Rebels will face a tough challenge against the Cougars, who reached the NCAA Sweet 16 a year ago.
Three straight games against WNIT teams from a year ago follows. Southern Utah concludes the road stretch, as UNLV goes up to Cedar City for a Dec. 13 game. This is the first meeting between the schools since 2011. Following the Northwestern contest, UNLV closes out the non-conference slate with a Dec. 21 matchup at Bakersfield. This will be the third all-time meeting with the Roadrunners, and first on their home court.
As it was in 2013-14, the Mountain West schedule format will be 18 games, with the Lady Rebels facing eight teams home and home, and two teams just once. UNLV may have caught a break in this year’s schedule as the two schools it will play once were the top two teams in last year’s final standings. UNLV will host regular season champion Colorado State on Feb. 7, and will be on the road at second place and tournament champion Fresno State (NCAA participant) on Feb. 11. The Lady Rebels begin MW play at home for the second straight season, a Dec. 31, 2 pm contest with Wyoming. The first road game, and also the first of the year against in-state rival Nevada, Reno, is on Jan. 7. UNLV’s second game against the Wolf Pack, and second of the Governor’s Series, the all-sports competition between the schools sponsored by NV Energy, will be in Las Vegas on Jan. 28. Senior night for UNLV will be on March 6 against San José State, an early 5 pm start that will be followed by the annual senior celebration.
This year’s MW Tournament will be again held in the Thomas & Mack Center. The first round will begin on March 9 with three games, and then four more games will be played on March 10, and the semifinals at night on March 11. The championship game for this season’s tournament will be held on Friday, March 13.
“Every year the Mountain West is very competitive, you have great coaches and great home court advantages at every school,” said Olivier. “It seems like every year there are surprise teams at the top of the league that no one expected, so you have to be ready to bring it every night if you want to win. If you take a breather in this league that will get you beat.”
The Lady Rebels will return three starters from last year’s team, including returning all-conference senior forward Alana Cesarz, along with junior center Aley Rohde and senior wing Danielle Miller. In addition to eight total letterwinners returning, UNLV also brought in a five-member freshmen class for the 2014-15 season.