The UNLV men’s basketball team played at The Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada on Wednesday night for the first time in school history. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors fell victim to them this time, as they were unable to snap the Rebels’ winning streak. The Rebels improved their season record to 9-0 with their 77-62 victory over the Rainbow Warriors.
Head coach Kevin Kruger said it was amazing being able to play at The Dollar Loan Center and hopes to make it a tradition going forward.
“It’s an unbelievable arena, it’s T-Mobile [Arena] without the upper deck,” Kruger said. “It’s a great place to play a basketball game, hopefully in the future we can figure out a way to get some teams to play us in Henderson.”
A three-pointer by Rebel guard Keshon Gilbert gave the Rebels an early 8-4 lead in the first half. This make was noteworthy, because it brought the Rebels’ streak of games with a made three-pointer to 1,170. After a successful three-point attempt by the Rainbow Warriors with 13 minutes remaining in the half, the Rebels led 13-8. They were maintaining this level of closeness when the Rebels went on a 7-0 run to extend their advantage to 20-8. They managed to seize control of the game thanks to this run.
With six minutes left in the half, the Rainbow Warriors made two free throws to trim the Rebels’ lead to 24-18. The Rebels retaliated with a run, as they always do, and this time an 8-0 run gave them a 32-18 lead. With eight seconds left in the half, Rebel guard Jordan McCabe received the inbounds pass, ran down the court, and made a sensational layup to beat the buzzer. The Rebels were up 41-22 at the break.
The Rebels struggled offensively in the first half, but their high percentages from three-point land (62%) and from the charity stripe (92%) kept them in the game. Defensively, they limited the Rainbow Warriors to shoot 27% from the field and 14% from three.
Kruger said the team was being disruptive on the defensive end in the first half.
“Our guys just did a good job of being annoying and bothersome,” Kruger said.
As the Rainbow Warriors figured out the Rebels offense and started making shots, things started to get interesting. The Rebels’ lead was reduced to single digits with nine minutes remaining at 54-46. With six minutes left in the game, Rebel guard Luis Rodriguez went on an 8-0 run on his own. This gave the Rebels a 65-51 lead and some breathing room.
With three minutes left, Rodriguez made two free throws to make it 71-55 for the Rebels. With one minute remaining, Rebel guard Elijah Harkless made a layup to give the Rebels a 77-57 lead. The Rainbow Warriors made a few shots, but the Rebels went on to win 77-62.
Rodriguez’s run allowed the 9-0 Rebels to win this game despite a sloppy second half. The Rebels never trailed during this game. They distinguished themselves by outscoring the Rainbow Warriors 18-2 on fastbreak points.
Kruger said Rodriguez’s run was what sparked them to victory.
“He made one or two more shots than they did and that was the difference in the second half,” Kruger said.
- Guard Luis Rodriguez totaled a game-high 18 points. He also added seven rebounds and two steals.
- Guard Keshon Gilbert finished with 13 points, one rebound, four assists, and three steals,
- Guard Justin Webster added 13 points off the bench on 75% shooting from the field.
The Rebels now host the Washington State Cougars at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Dec. 10 in the Las Vegas Clash, which will be another home game away from home for the Rebels.
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