Runnin’ Rebels fall in Round of 8 to Seton Hall Pirates

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UNLV No. 11 Dedan Thomas Jr. drives to the basket against Boston College. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong).

UNLV Men’s basketball (21-13) fell to No. 1. seed Seton Hall Pirates (23-12) 91-68 in the Round of 8 at Walsh Gymnasium of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on March 27.

The Rebels entered the game coming off a nail-biting win against the Boston College Eagles in the Round of 16.

Al-Amir Dawes shined for the Pirates, scoring 21 points and six rebounds.

Despite the loss, Kalib Boone played efficiently for the Rebels, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

Justin Webster also contributed for the Rebels despite the loss, scoring 11 points and dishing four assists.

The Rebels finished the game scoring 33 bench points and 46 points in the paint, but the Pirates 57% efficient shooting was the determining factor in the game.

The Pirates defense looked emphatic early on, forcing two quick turnovers and capitalizing on offense with two consecutive layups and a jump shot to make the score 6-0 with 18:16 left.

The physicality of the Pirates continued to startle UNLV, forcing two more turnovers on the defensive end. On the Pirates next possession, Jaden Bediako drove down the lane and slammed home his fourth point to make the score 13-4 with 15:19 left.

After the basket by Justin Webster, the Rebels started to string stops together, with Deden Thomas Jr. forcing a tough 3-point jump shot and running the break, leading to two free throws from Kalib Boone.

Brooklyn Hicks provided a spark midway through the first half, weaving his way through the lane and banking in a reverse layup to cut the Pirates lead to seven with 12:11 left.

Rob Whaley Jr. started converting downlow, pivoting his way into the paint, and scoring a layup. Whaley, on his next possession, worked the low block and connected on another layup to make the score 26-18 in favor of Seton Hall.

Neither team could buy a 3-pointer basket, with both teams shooting a combined 1-of-17 with under seven minutes to play in the first half.

The Pirates high-powered offense continued to pick up steam after Kadary Richmond converted on a layup and Dawes cashing in from deep to give Seton Hall the biggest lead of the game at 33-20 with 3:03 left.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Dylan Addae-Wuse closed out a 7-0 run, securing a steal and throwing down a ferocious dunk to end the half leading 44-26. The Pirates also made the last nine of ten shots to close the half.

Dawes started the second half by making it rain from downtown, draining three consecutive shots to extend the lead to 53-26 with 18:17 left.

Webster would convert for UNLV’s first shot from beyond the arc, keeping the streak of 1,226 consecutive games of a make 3-pointer alive for the Rebels.

Staggering defense continued to propel Seton Hall forward, securing another steal and scoring another fast break bucket to make the score 57-31.

Kalib Boone would not shy away, scoring a layup for his eighth point of the game. On the following possession, Isaiah Cottell buried a 3-pointer, capping off a quick 5-0 run for the Rebels with 15:21 left.

After a 3-point basket by Jackie Johnson III, Thomas drove down the lane and converted on a tear dropper to claw back into the Pirates lead of 65-43 with 12:38 left.

UNLV forcefully started attacking the basket, scoring on multiple dunks and layup attempts to cut the deficit to 69-48 with 9:17 left.

The Rebels started to string offensive possessions together, with Webster throwing a full-court pass to Hicks for a dunk, followed by a Kalib Boone dunk on the next possession. After a step-back 3-point basket from Addae-Wuse, Kalib Boone continued to work downlow and scored his twelfth point to make the score 74-54 with 6:48 left.

Throughout the back end of the second half, both teams continued to throw haymakers at each other, cashing in on four consecutive 3-pointers. This marked the fifteenth 3-point make for the game.

Seton Hall kept its foot on the petal through the remainder of the game and defeated the Runnin’ Rebels 91-68 to advance to the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Up Next

UNLV Men’s basketball finished the season with a 21-13 record and will compete in the 2024-25 season to fight for a Mountain West Championship since winning the tournament in 2008.

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