Runnin’ Rebels lose to the Broncos, drop third straight

Source: UNLV Athletics

For their 15th conference matchup of the season, the seventh-place UNLV Runnin’ Rebels traveled to Idaho to take on the second-place Boise State Broncos. With a score of 73-69 the Rebels fell to the Broncos and have now dropped to 16-11 overall and 5-10 in the Mountain West. The loss is the Rebels’ third straight.

Head coach Kevin Kruger announced that both Luis Rodriguez and Elijah Parquet would be unavailable for this game during a pre-game interview. This meant that Shane Nowell would make his first-ever collegiate start. David Muoka made his second consecutive start after coming off the bench for the past few games.

Kruger said despite the health issues they have faced, his team would have to continue to compete.

“The group has dealt with a lot with lineups and rotations and availability,” Kruger said. “We are at that point right now we just have to get in a good rhythm and keep working.”

Early in the game, Justin Webster hit a three-pointer to give the Rebels a 5-2 lead. Webster extended the Rebels’ streak to 1,188 consecutive games with a made three-pointer. Keshon Gilbert then made a layup to give the Rebels’ a 9-4 lead. With 14 minutes left in the half, the Broncos went on a 7-0 run to take the lead 11-9. In the next minute, the undermanned Rebels retaliated with a 5-0 run to take the lead 14-11.

Halfway through the half, neither team was gaining a significant lead as they were tied at 19 when the Rebels went on a 7-0 run to take a 26-19 lead, their largest of the game to that point. The Broncos answered with their own 7-0 run to tie the score at 26 with five minutes remaining. With less than a minute to play, Elijah Harkless made a jump shot to give the Rebels a 32-31 lead. The Broncos would end the half on a 7-0 run during this final minute to lead 38-32 going into the break.

The Broncos were limited by the Runnin’ Rebels to just 35% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc in the first half. Unquestionably, free throws and turnovers were the Rebels’ biggest enemies early on. With 13 points combined, Nowell and Justin Webster, who took the place of the injured Rodriguez and Parquet, led the Rebels.

Kruger said his team would have to keep fighting in the second half.

“In the first 38 and a half minutes we made a lot of really good plays,” Kruger said. “We just have to keep working to get good shots and keep competing.”

The Runnin’ Rebels evened the score immediately after the break with a run of six straight points. Jordan McCabe hit a three-pointer to cut the Broncos’ advantage to 46-45 with 11 minutes left. The following four minutes saw the Broncos go on an 11-5 run to increase their advantage to 57-50. Harkless capped an 11-6 run with a three-pointer to cut the Broncos’ lead to 63-61 as the game entered its final minutes.

Norwell hit a three-pointer to reduce the Broncos’ lead to 71-69 with eight seconds left, but the Broncos iced the game from the free throw line by sinking both of their attempts. The Rebels gave it their all but ultimately lost their third straight game. Although the Broncos were limited to just 25% three-point shooting by the Rebels, it wasn’t enough. The Broncos undeniably dominated the paint and made more free throws, both of which stood out as key differences in the game.

Key Performers

  • Guard Shane Nowell in his first collegiate start finished the game with 14 points, two rebounds, and one steal.
  • Guard Elijah Harkless tallied 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists. 

On Feb. 24, at the Thomas & Mack Center, the Rebels welcome the Air Force Falcons. The “Kids Night” contest will tip off at 6:30 p.m.

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