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Saint Mary’s outlasts UNLV as Rebels drop 4th in last 6

Injuries, foul outs and game-winners plus just about everything else came into play during the last outing for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels except the finish.

After indulging in 50 minutes of basketball, UNLV was beaten by Saint Mary’s on a buzzer-beating basket at the final horn to fall, 69-67, in double overtime. The game was played as part of the Jerry Colangelo Classic from Phoenix, Arizona inside the Footprint Center.

The Rebels were coming off their first Top-10 win since 2020 but now the team falls to 4-5 on the new year with conference play just two games away. A first-ever Runnin’ Rebel Holiday Game awaits on the schedule as UNLV will welcome in Hofstra Thursday, Dec. 21. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.

After trailing for more than 80% of the game before battling back in the second half to tie the game and eventually send it to overtime and ultimately a second overtime session. With the game tied at 67 apiece, the Rebel defense was burned by a full-court pass to Gaels’ senior center Mitchell Saxen who completed his layup attempt just before the final buzzer.

There were nine lead changes in the game with seven coming in the two overtime periods. In the first overtime session, UNLV built its largest lead of the game at five points. Late in the second extra period, the Rebs were up three points before fouling on a made field goal for a three-point play opportunity.

Freshman guard Dedan Thomas Jr. led all scorers in the game with 24 points with 12 made free throws which included him scoring 21 of his points after halftime. Down-the-stretch, the Liberty product felt nearly every ebb and flow of collegiate basketball.

Late in regulation, Thomas tied the game at 50 on a made field goal on the heels of two missed free throws by Saint Mary’s. Moments later, he’d miss a three-pointer at the buzzer with a chance to claim the win.

Near the conclusion of the first overtime, Thomas dribbled inside the paint but would lose the ball out of bounds off of his leg with a chance to take the lead with 30 seconds left. Additionally, Thomas missed UNLV’s late chance to break the 67-67 tie.

Rebounding jumped off the stat sheet throughout the tightly-contested ball game as the Gaels closed the game with the 68-33 advantage including a 33-4 finish in the offensive rebounding category. Off those 33 offensive rebounds, Saint Mary’s turned it into 31 second chance points while holding UNLV to just four of its own.

Dominant in the paint was also in the recipe for the win as the Rebels were outscored 46-22 inside the key.

UNLV kept things close, as it often does, with its turnovers forced. On the night, the team forced its opponent into 15 turnovers while converting them into 19 points off turnovers.

It was a small 6-0 run as part of a 10-3 run in the middle of the second half that allowed Saint Mary’s to take a lead as large as 11 points before the UNLV comeback.

The first points of the game for either side didn’t come until nearly three minutes following the tip-off. IN fact, both teams combined to shoot 10-for-57 in the first half as the Gaels took a, 20-14, lead into the locker room.

In danger of not making a three-pointer for the first time in program history, fifth-year guard Luis Rodriguez rattled home a deep ball three minutes out of halftime. That longball counted as the first of the game for either side.

Another three from Rodriguez later in the second half cut the once double-digit lead to seven. He’d finish with 16 points with three made threes to go along with seven rebounds and two assists.

Fellow fifth-year guard Justin Webster was the final UNLV player in double-figures with 16 points on 5-of-12 from the field.

With the Rebels down two points late in regulation, Rodriguez got the defensive stop on one end with a block preserving the game-tying or lead changing opportunity for the program. Webster would proceed to miss a layup on the other end, briefly putting a damper on the team’s chances at the win.

Fifth-year forward Kalib Boone fouled out without scoring a single point which marked the first time he’s gone scoreless in a game where he’s played at least 15 minutes since his freshman year back in 2019-20. Coming into play, he was the Rebels’ leading scorer through the first eight games of the season.

Twin brother Keylan also fouled out along with sophomore forward Isaiah Cottrell. The trio of the Boone brothers and Cottrell combined to go 2-for-14 from the field as a unit.

Junior guard Shane Nowell made his season debut after missing the first eight games of the year with an ankle injury. He failed to register any stats aside from a foul in just two minutes played.


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