After gaining some traction in the standings due to losses by surrounding teams, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels dropped a third straight loss on the road resulting in another regular season sweep.
UNLV lost to Boise State, 73-69, Sunday, Feb. 19 from the ExtraMile Arena. The Rebels have lost the last seven outings against the Broncos including an 18-point loss back in early January.
“Even down-the-stretch, we forced some tough shots,” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “By that point, there was kind of a little bit of a rhythm and unfortunately, they went in.”
This marks the fourth time that UNLV has been swept this Mountain West conference season. Moreover, the team is 4-5 on the road this year.
As a result, the Rebels are now 16-11 this season with a 5-10 standing in the Mountain West. The loss means the program slid from seventh place in the conference back down to ninth.
UNLV will return home for a Friday, Feb. 24 date against the Air Force Falcons with tip-off slated for 6:30 p.m.
With just over seven and a half minutes left in regulation, Boise State built its largest lead of the game at seven points over the visiting UNLV. In an effort to extinguish the home crowd’s buzz, the Rebels fired off a three-point barrage to close the gap.
Senior guard Justin Webster trimmed it down to three with a splash from downtown. Fifth-year guard EJ Harkless followed up with one of his own to cut it to two points.
Fellow fifth-year guard Jordan McCabe added to it by hitting two late threes followed by another from sophomore guard Shane Nowell, who had a career night in the scoring department.
Nowell scored a career-high 14 points on 50% shooting with three made three-pointers. This contest marked his first collegiate start.
Harkless added 14 points of his own on 4-of-11 from the field to go along with five rebounds which was shared as a team-high.
No Rebel reached double-figures until more than 33 minutes into the game.
UNLV played this game without senior guard Luis Rodriguez and fifth-year guard Elijah Parquet. This season, the team is 2-7 in games that Parquet does not play in.
“This is a group that has been really good defensively when we’ve put out fires for each other,” Kruger said. “With a team like Boise, that’s going to continuously challenge you and compete to get really good shots, you have to fight like crazy. Because sometimes it’s not the first one, sometimes it’s not the second one. You’re going to have to put out four or five fires.”
Despite the loss, the Rebels outshot the Broncos from deep, 42% versus 25% the other way. In addition, Boise State shot better from the field as a whole by one percent (45% to 44%).
The Rebels even won the rebounding battle, 32-31, but was grossly outscored in the paint to the tune of 34-16.
This game provided plenty of examples of the ‘Game of runs’ moniker that basketball typically lives up to.
UNLV held Boise State without a field goal for more than four minutes near the open of the game, holding the team without a point for nearly two and a half minutes. That drought was offset by a 7-0 run by the home team over a near two-minute span.
Later in the first half, the Rebels duplicated its defensive performance with a 7-0 run of its own while holding their opponent scoreless for more than four minutes. The Broncos would counterpunch with a 6-0 run right on the heels of the first spurt, holding their opponents without a point for more than three minutes. Boise State finished the first half on a 7-0 run over the last 55 seconds.
UNLV came out of the locker room after halftime on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 38 apiece. After going scoreless for the next 2:15, the Rebels lost the lead for the final time of the game and would never regain it.