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Mountain West champ UNLV aims to bust brackets in NCAA Tournament

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Desi-Rae Young and UNLV lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. (Simon Asher/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

UNLV women’s basketball bowed out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. This time around, the Runnin’ Rebels are aiming higher, star Desi-Rae Young said.

Young helped UNLV to a Mountain West tournament championship Wednesday and to a 31-2 record so far this season. If the No. 21 Rebels hadn’t secured the automatic bid with the tournament title, they would have been shoo-ins for an at-large berth.

And wherever they end up on Selection Sunday, they’re ready to wreak havoc as aspiring bracket busters.

“We want to go farther than last year,” Young told KTNV ahead of the Mountain West championship game.

UNLV looked solid in a 71-60 win against Wyoming (22-10) to clinch their second consecutive title, and Young won the tournament MVP award with 28 points and 17 rebounds.

“I’m just so incredibly proud of our team for doing whatever it takes,” coach Lindy La Rocque said. “They had a look in their eyes this morning, and I knew we were going to come away with this one.”

Now, the Rebels must ready themselves for March Madness.

Last season, as a No. 13 seed, UNLV fell in the first round to No. 4 seed Arizona. This season, Just Women’s Sports writer Eden Laase has the team pegged as a No. 12 seed with strong upset potential.

The Rebels will roll into this year’s NCAA Tournament with a 22-game winning streak and with a new swagger.

“We’re coming in with an aggression we didn’t have much last year,” Young said. “We want it this year.”

The team will also have the Las Vegas Aces in its corner as it heads into the tournament. Aces guard and 2022 WNBA Most Improved Player Jackie Young cheered on the Rebels during the Mountain West title game Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center on UNLV’s campus.