UNLV’s lone road trip of its non-conference schedule ended with an 83-62 loss to San Francisco.
Coming off its worst performance of the season at SMU, UNLV battled through some early adversity but could not put together a full 40-minute performance needed to beat a quality San Francisco team.
“We fought for 30 minutes, but that’s not enough…” head coach Kevin Kruger told reporters after the loss. “30 minutes just isn’t enough. We threw some punches, (San Francisco) made some shots early. We could have folded pretty quick but fought back to end the first half. But just not enough and it got away there toward the end.”
The Runnin’ Rebels got off to a slow start, trailing 12-4 early in the first half. Slowly, UNLV chipped away at the deficit.
Led by Bryce Hamilton’s 15 first-half points, UNLV managed to tie the game at 37-37 late in the first half before San Francisco scored the only points in the final 90 seconds of the half to take a 40-37 lead into the locker room.
UNLV traded baskets with San Francisco early in the second half, trailing 47-45 with 15 minutes to go. Then, the wheels came off.
The Dons put the game out of reach as they went on a 19-3 run in a span of over seven minutes in the game time to take a 66-48 lead.
The Runnin’ Rebels committed five turnovers during that stretch and made just one field goal as they saw their two-point deficit turn into an 18-point deficit.
San Francisco never looked back, leading by as many as 22 points before the game ended with an 83-62 final score.
Kruger said that his group was frustrated after the loss. Mike Grimala of the Las Vegas Sun reported that players could be heard shouting in the locker room as the media waited to speak with Kruger after the loss.
“They’re frustrated because they’ve worked at it,” Kruger said. “They play hard, but we weren’t able to get over that hump tonight.”
UNLV shot 25% from the field (7-of-28) in the second half and only made 3-of-9 3-pointers.
Hamilton led the way for UNLV with 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting. The rest of the team shot 12-of-38 overall. Donovan Williams was the only other Runnin’ Rebel in double figures, but he only played 18 minutes due to foul trouble.
Hamilton did not start, nor did Williams or Mike Nuga, as Reese Brown, Josh Baker, and Justin Webster all started in their place. Kruger said that he wanted to find a way to get off to a better start and that those three acknowledged to Kruger that they had not done enough to help UNLV get off to a good start in games.
Offensively, San Francisco moved the ball well and created a lot of open shots against an already struggling UNLV defense, as the Dons picked up 15 assists on 33 made field goals.
The Dons also dominated in the paint, outscoring UNLV 42-24 in points in the paint and converting on 15-of-23 layups. San Francisco guard Jamaree Bouyea torched the Runnin’ Rebels with 30 points and eight made 3-pointers.
UNLV has now lost five of its last six games, and five straight games to Division I teams. Despite the recent struggles, Kruger is confident in what his team and coaching staff is doing in practice leading up to the game. He noted that he feels everyone’s approach is right and that they cannot throw everything away after a couple of losses.
“They have to take a breath and trust in it,” Kruger said. “And trust that their process is the right one and what the team is doing, what their teammates are doing is everything they possibly can to help UNLV win games.”
UNLV returns home on Dec. 8 to host Seattle University at 7 p.m. The game will be at Mandalay Bay as the Thomas & Mack Center is hosting the National Finals Rodeo.
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