Runnin’ Rebels drop first game of season to San Francisco

Source: USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Dons were victorious in a close game against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday night. The Rebels, having not suffered a loss yet on the season, lost a game they were leading for nearly 39 minutes. The Rebels are now 10-1 overall after the 75–73 los. They have one non–conference game left to play.

In the opening minutes of the game, the Rebels went on a 5-0 run. The Rebels extended their NCAA record streak of consecutive games with a made three-pointer to 1,172 games after Justin Webster’s three-pointer. However, both teams continued to simply trade buckets for the following few minutes. 11 minutes into the first half, an Elijah Harkless three-pointer gave the Rebels a 23-15 lead. With six minutes left in the half, the Dons went on a 14-5 run to take a 29-28 lead, their first of the game.

The Rebels came back and retook the lead at 37-31 with a quick 9-2 run. With just under two minutes left in the half, Harkless made one of two free throws to increase the Rebels’ lead to 43-33. The Rebels led 46-37 at the half thanks to a three-pointer from Jordan McCabe.

During the first half, the Rebels’ offense got going, shooting 52% from the field and 44% from three-point range. Additionally, the Rebels’ defense was solid as usual, limiting the Dons to 38% shooting from the field and 17% from beyond the arc. Since Elijah Parquet was out due to injury, their best defensive player, this team defensive performance was even more impressive.

Head coach Kevin Kruger said the defense looked great despite Parquet being out because of the collective effort by the rest of the team.

“I think it looked good, a good team effort,” Kruger said. “At the end of the day we’re forcing tough shots, we just have to do better rebounding.”

The game went back and forth for a large portion of the second half. With three minutes left in the game, a Victor Iwuakor dunk gave the Rebels a 73-64 advantage. With less than a minute left, the Dons were getting closer thanks to an 8-0 run, which cut the Rebels’ lead to 73-72.

The Dons had a chance to take the lead after Harkless missed a jump shot and the rebound fell to them. With the game on the line, the Rebels played outstanding defense, but Tyrell Roberts made a difficult three-pointer to give San Francisco the lead at 75-73 with six seconds left. Gilbert missed a potential game-winner due to a poor call by the Rebels during the final possession.

The Rebels led for all but three possessions in the game. They also had every statistical advantage except rebounds, resulting in a tough loss for Kruger’s team. 

Kruger said his Runnin’ Rebels couldn’t get a big enough lead to put away this stingy San Francisco team. 

“You hit the nail on the head, we just couldn’t quite get far enough away to win,” Kruger said. “We have to lock in a little better and learn from it.”

Key Performers 

  • Guard Elijah Harkless finished the night with 21 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. 
  • Guard Luis Rodriguez totaled 17 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and three steals. 

The Rebels host the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Dec. 22 to finish off their non-conference schedule, their last ramp up before beginning the gauntlet of the Mountain West Conference.

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