Runnin’ Rebels snap four game losing streak vs Wyoming

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Xavier DuSell (left) guarding EJ Harkless (right). Harkless finished the game with 28 points. Photo courtesy of UNLV Athletics.

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels earned their second Mountain West conference victory against Wyoming beating the Cowboys 86-72 on Tuesday Jan. 24.

In the Rebels team victory the Cowboys four players scored double digit points including Elijah Harkless who led the team with 28 points.

“I thought it was definitely a good step back in the right direction,” Head Coach Kevin Kruger said.

Two of the players who scored double digits were Jordan McCabe and Keyshawn Hall who came off the Rebels bench. McCabe finished the game with 12 points and four assists. Hall finished the game making all of his shots from the field scoring 10 points.

The Runnin’ Rebels started the game on top with a 6-0 run making each of their first three shots of the game.

Wyoming on offense was cold beyond the arch missing four out of their first five 3-pointers of the game. 

In the middle of the first half, Hall and McCabe led the Rebels to a 19-12 lead.

Hunter Thompson cut the Cowboys deficit with a 3-pointer then a steal that led to a fast break layup by Noah Rrynolds to make the score 21-20 with 8:00 to go in the first half.

The Rebels bench led another run with 3-pointers by McCabe and Shane Nowell in back to back possessions to give the Rebels a 29-23 lead late in the first half.

Nowell finished the game with 18 minutes played and scored 6 points off of two 3-pointers. On defense Nowell also blocked a shot. Kruger talked after the game about Nowell’s performance.

“He went out there and played like he has been playing 20 minutes a night all year,” Kruger said. “I thought he did a great job defensively being a presence, there aren’t a lot of guys that look like Shane Nowell, he’s built to play basketball and I thought tonight he did a really good job of that.”

At the end of the first half McCabe made a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Rebels a 41-31 lead at the half.

“It countered the three that they had just made,” Kruger said. “It was huge because when you have an offensive play at the end of a half it’s something that can swing a game.” 

The second half started with another early run by the Rebels. Justin Webster made three 3-pointers early in the second half to extend the Rebels lead 55-40.

In the middle of the second half Xavier DuSell and Noah Reynolds gave the Cowboys offense a spark making two 3-pointers each to cut the Rebel lead 65-60 with 9:15 remaining in regulation.

In the backend of the second half, Hall dominated the paint scoring in three straight possessions extending the Rebel lead 76-63 with 6:29 left in regulation. 

Down by 13 and late in the second half, Reynolds made two 3-pointers in a stretch when the Cowboys knocked down four 3-pointers in four possessions to make the score 78-72 putting the Cowboys within reach with 4:12 remaining. 

The play that sealed the game was with 2:29 remaining and the Rebels scored five points in one possession. Harkless was found by DuSell on a 3-point shot and the Wyoming bench received a technical foul after the whistle. 

Harkless proceeded to make all five three throws to which were the final points of the game resulting in the Rebels win 86-72.

The Runnin’ Rebels will play their next game against their rivals up north the Nevada Wolfpack on Sat. Jan 28th at the Thomas & Mack Center at 7 p.m. PST. 

Coach Kruger talked after the game about how the Runnin’ Rebels performance was good, however they will need to play at their best to beat Reno.

“They play so hard, and they’re playing incredibly physical and well together,” Kruger said. “So it’s definitely a step in the right direction but at the same time, we got to know and understand that now. We have to take another step forward if you want to beat a pretty good Reno team.”

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