UNLV Running Rebels had a heart breaking loss to Boise State.
After digging a 22-point deficit in the first half of Thursday’s Mountain West quarterfinal game, the Running Rebels finally came to life, rallying to force overtime on a last-second shot by Shane Nowell. The celebration was fleeting, however, as Boise State dominated the OT period and eliminated UNLV, 87-76.
The last time the Rebels danced their way into the NCAA Tournament was 2013, and chances are that drought will continue.
The 7th seeded Running Rebels came out slow in their Semi-finals matchup against 2nd seeded Boise State, falling behind early after a 9-0 start from the Broncos.
Boise State came out firing, hitting 10 first-half three-pointers to build a 50-34 half-time lead over UNLV before the Rebels came alive.
The Rebels uses their up-tempo style of play and three-point shooting to chip away at the Broncos lead, and eventually took control at 65-64 with four minutes remaining after an and-one play from EJ Harkless.
Marcus Shaver Jr. led Boise St. on a 8-3 run to take back the lead 73-70, before Shane Nowell hit a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. According to unlvrebels.com It was UNLV’s third straight overtime game and fifth of the season.
Naje Smith opened the overtime period with a three-pointer for Boise State, quickly shifting the momentum. Costly turnovers caused the Rebels to fall apart, as they were outscored 14-3 in overtime en route to the 76-87 defeat.
EJ Harkless and Justin Webster carried UNLV with 18 points a piece.
With an overall record of 19-13, chances are the Rebels will not secure an NCAA Tournament entry, but could get an invite to play in the NCAA NIT Tournament.
UNLV only has three outgoing players who don’t have any eligibility remaining: Harkless, senior point guard Jordan McCabe and senior guard Eli Parquet. They’re gone for sure, and Harkless’ absence will be felt particularly hard, as he led the team in scoring and assists this season.