Rebels hang on to defeat Fresno State on the road 

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UNLV No. 20 Keylan Boone drives to the basket against Wyoming. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong).

UNLV Men’s Basketball defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs by a final score of 67-65 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. 

The Bulldogs held an 11-13 record this season while entering play on a two-game winning streak. With the win, the Rebels improved to a record of 14-9 and 7-4 in the conference.

Rob Whaley Jr. was the standout player of the game for the Rebels in the win, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds, and a block. 

The Runnin’ Rebels entered the matchup with a four-game winning streak and holding a record of 13-9 overall and 6-4 in conference play. 

As the Rebel defense came out of the tunnel, a lot of pressure was provided as Luis Rodriguez found a steal on the Bulldog’s first possession, and Whaley Jr. contributed a block leading to a four-point swing and a 4-0 start for UNLV.

The Bulldogs responded to the Rebels with Xavier Dusell sinking a 3-pointer. Isaiah Hill finished a second-chance layup off of a turnover to make the score 6-5 Rebels with 16 minutes remaining in the first half. 

As the game clock ticked down to 12 minutes, each team traded baskets on three consecutive possessions, but the Rebels would come out on top 14-11 after Keylan Boone had a hot start with six points on two shots from the floor and a pair of free throws.

After the first media timeout, the defense played a role on both sides of the court. Only one basket fell between five combined attempts from either side, with the basket going to Jackie Johnson off the Rebel bench to make the score 16-11 midway into the first half. 

While the defense stood tall for UNLV, Whaley Jr. put the Rebels back on the scoring column after he substituted back into the game. He contributed with four points and an assist to help send the Rebels on a 7-0 run with a 20-11 lead with eight minutes to go in the half. 

The Bulldogs continued to chip away at the Rebels lead despite the large deficit, and tied the game 20-20 after a 9-0 run led by Leo Colimerio with four points and an assist of his own, with six minutes on the clock. 

Dusell completed a fall-away jumper, and the Bulldogs grabbed its first lead after a one-and-one play by Jalen Weaver to make the score 28-25.

Before the horn sounded, Colimerio would add two free throws for 16 first-half points and a 32-29 Bulldog lead. 

The second half began with back-to-back 3-point attempts by the Bulldogs, but neither fell through the twine as the Rebels would post the first points of the final 20 minutes. 

Keylan Boone would convert a 3-point play  to tie the game just over a minute into the second half.

Each team exchanged blows after the game’s opening minute, led by Keylan Boone, who put up an additional basket and an assist for five second-half points, tying the game at 38-38 with 16 minutes left. 

At the 15-minute mark of the second half, the Rebels reclaimed the lead 40-39 after a travel call against the Bulldogs, which led to two free throws from Kalib Boone. 

The UNLV offense continued to come alive early in the second half as Thomas Jr. hit his first from beyond the arc, and Rodriguez became the third player to complete a 3-point play to make the score 46-39.

With 13 minutes remaining in the contest, Colimerio and Dusell had made 12-of-16 shot attempts, while the rest of the team had only combined for a total of 4-of-18 from the field.

An 11-4 run for the Bulldogs over the course of three minutes of play resulted in a 50-50 game led by bench players Isaiah Pope and Steven Vasquez Jr. in the ninth tie of the matchup.

In a tight game, Fresno State began to find themselves in foul trouble, including Dusell, who was up to four fouls with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, with the Rebels leading 58-53.

A big difference in the second half of the game that allowed UNLV to separate from the Bulldogs for a moment was points inside the paint, and it is hard to find a tougher contest for a defender than Whaley Jr. 

Whaley Jr. led the team in points with four minutes remaining in the game with 16, all of which came within the paint and 11 in the second half.

However, the Bulldog’s third six-point run brought the game close in the final three minutes, with the Rebels only up by two, 62-60. 

In the final 90 seconds of play, the 12th turnover of the game for the Rebels resulted in the 30th point for Colimerio and a career-high to bring the Rebel lead to just one 66-65. 

With just eight seconds left, a crucial turnover by Thomas Jr. while leading 67-65 gave an opportunity for the Bulldogs to win the tie to send the game to overtime or win the contest with a three, but strong defense from the Runnin’ Rebels stunted the Fresno State offense to secure its fifth win in a row.

Up Next

The Rebels will return home to the Thomas & Mack Center to take on in-state rival, the University of Nevada Wolf Pack, who currently hold a record of 19-6 overall and 6-5 in conference play. 

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