The Runnin’ Rebels defeated the Omaha Mavericks 84-71 in the team’s return to the Thomas & Mack Center Wednesday night.
Royce Hamm Jr. won the tip-off for the Runnin Rebels but was tipped out of bounds.
Justin Webster gave a quick inbound pass to Bryce Hamilton for a three-point shot to get the Runnin’ Rebels on the board.
The Runnin’ Rebels opened the first half on a 13-5 run. Defensively, the Runnin’ Rebels pressed the Mavericks in a man-to-man full-court press.
The Mavericks gained offensive momentum and went on a 9-2 run to cut the lead 15-14 with 12:11 on the clock.
Halfway through the first half, Donovan Williams shot from the corner, but air-balled luckily Keshon Gilbert was there for the save and passed to Hamilton for the layup.
The Runnin’ Rebels continued to attack the basket, 27-19, but the Mavericks didn’t back down, going on a 10-2 run to tie the game 29-29 with 4:02 on the clock.
With two minutes left to go, Hamilton drove to the basket and made the tough and-1 layup including the following free throw.
The first half ended with the Runnin’ Rebels trailing 38-35.
To get the second half going, Jordan McCabe gave it to Hamilton who drove the ball from beyond the arc for the layup.
Josh Baker drove the ball from the corner to drive the ball for the and-1 layup and could not complete the three-point play, but helped the Runnin’ Rebels trail by one point, 40-39.
Baker was getting hot from the hardwood, sinking a three-pointer with an assist from Hamilton.
With 12:30 left in the ball game, the Rebels trailed 55-52.
The Rebels started gaining offensive momentum. Reece Brown passed the ball to Williams down low for the big two-hand slam.
In the next play, Hamilton drove to the basket hard but was fouled and sank both free throws to gain the one-point lead, 61-60, with nine minutes left.
McCabe brought the ball up and let it fly to stretch the Runnin’ Rebels lead 69-65.
Defensively, the Runnin’ Rebels went back into a full-court press.
The Runnin’ Rebels led by 10 points with a little over two minutes to go in the game, 76-66.
“We are proud of the guys for fighting,” head coach Kevin Kruger said. “I thought there was a moment during the second half when we were on our heels a little bit and Omaha took the lead, but our guys did a good job of digging in and fighting back and winning.”
“We were a little hesitant in the first half and were taking good shots but not necessarily great shots. In the second half, we did a much better job of sharing the ball, moving it around and getting it from side to side.”
Hamilton ended with 26 points while Hamm Jr got a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Runnin’ Rebels are now 5-1 at home.
The Runnin’ Rebels will stay at the Thomas & Mack Center to face the San Diego Toreros on Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.