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Runnin’ Rebels survive in double OT against pesky Air Force Falcons

UNLV escapes in double overtime, 87-85, against the Falcons.

NCAA Basketball: Air Force at UNLV Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Back in June, first year head coach Marvin Menzies secured a commitment from a little known player from Chicago by the name of Jovan Mooring. Mooring, a star at the division II juco level, came to UNLV with the reputation of being a high volume scorer that could hit shots during critical points of the game. The only question was whether those attributes would translate to the much tougher Division I level.

Well on Saturday night Mooring continued to prove to people that the jump to Division I won’t be any issue for him, as he went off for a game high 30 points on 8 of 21 shooting and hit one of the biggest 3-pointers of the season.

The biggest shot of Moorings young career, came with 2.9 seconds left and the Rebels trailing the Falcons by 3, 58-55. After a Trevor Lyons free throw increased the Falcons lead to 3, they opted to foul Rebels guard Jalen Poyser on the next possession. Poyser would miss the first free throw, meaning he would have to intentionally miss the second and hope one the Rebels would secure the rebound. And while it didn’t quite work out that way, the ball deflected off of two Falcons players that were trying to secure the round and went out of bounds, it gave UNLV one last chance, and Mooring connected, banking in the buzzer beating shot to tie the game and force overtime.

And the drama didn’t end there.

With time winding down in the first overtime and the scored tied at 67, Mooring brought the ball down court and launch a ridiculously deep 3-pointer, and connected. Seemingly securing the win for the Rebels, as there was only 3 seconds left. But the Falcons had a different idea.

After receiving the inbounds pass, falcons guard Jacob Van would race down court and knock down his own game tying 3-pointer, forcing another period of bonus basketball.

There were probably a lot of people wondering why the Rebels didn’t opt to foul. With a 3-point lead fouling would have all but secured the win, and Menzies confirmed during his post game press conference that he had instructed his players to foul, but Van was able to get away and get down court. When asked what he said to the players about the missed assigment and allowing Van to get the shot off, Menzies said, “I had some choice words for them after that”.

On the Rebels first possession of the second overtime, forward Christian Jones would connect on a mid range 2-point jumper, giving the Rebels a 72-70 lead. A lead they would never relinquish, pushing the margin to 80-73, leading to the Falcons having to foul and both times they had to foul during the final minute, they were forced to foul the Rebels Jovan Mooring. Mooring connected on all four of his free throws to secure the Rebels most dramatic win of the season, 87-85.

Moorings final stat line for the night, 30 points (7 3-pointers!), 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Not a bad night for the guard who is quickly becoming UNLV’s go to scorer, and for good reason.

UNLV received another solid performance from senior Christian Jones, who finished with 15 points and Tyrell Green Jr is hopefully coming out of his mid season slump as he tallied 12 points for the night.

For the Falcons, they were led by their star forward Hayden Graham who finished the night with 22 points in 39 minutes before fouling out. Also contributing to the wild night were guards Jacob Van, 17 points, and Zach Kocur, 16 points.

While escaping with the win was great for the Rebels, there’s still a lot of things that need to be corrected, as they shot a horrible 33.8% from the field, but were fortunate that the Falcons were having their own issues shooting the ball, specifically from the free throw line. The usually reliable Air Force squad only hit 55% of their free throws, which allowed the Rebels to stay in the game. That’s not a game plan they should rely on the next time they face the Falcons on February 22nd in Colorado Springs.

Up Next:

UNLV travels to Laramie to take on the Cowboys of Wyoming on Wednesday the 25th. Tip off is slated for 6 pm pst.

Air Force takes on the surging Aztecs on Tuesday night at Clune Arena. Tip off is set for 6pm pst.

Here’s the full highlights from last night thriller. Check out the deep 3-pointer from Mooring around 5:10 mark.