For the first time since 2012-13, the UNLV Rebels have completed the season sweep over the Nevada Wolf Pack, earning the 62-54 victory Tuesday in front of 9,148 fans at Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.
Nevada struggled once again down the stretch, an ever-so plaguing problem that’s plagued them throughout the season.
It conjured together just two baskets (on nine attempts) over the game’s final seven minutes, one of which included a wide-open dunk in the game’s final seconds. The Rebels fashioned a 12-3 run from the 6:27 to the 1:23 mark — a five-minute, four second span — to evidently secure its third consecutive Quad 1 or 2 victory of the season.
Tuesday’s loss snaps Nevada’s three-game win streak, dropping to 12-14 and 6-9 in Mountain West play this season. It also drops to 9-2 in Quad 3 or 4 games and 7-6 at home. The Rebels improve to 17-11 with a mirrored 9-6 conference record.
Nevada was without one of its top shot creators, 3-point shooters and defenders in Desmond Cambridge (ribs), who was a late scratch — and his absence (definitely) showed. It shot just 38.3 percent and 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) from deep.
Note: The Wolf Pack have now had three games this season with three or fewer made 3s; over its last three seasons, it’s had three such games combined. The last time it had multiple such outings in a single season was in 2015-16 (8).
Grant Sherfield finished with a team-high 19 points and eight assists, shooting 8-for-22 on the evening. Despite Cambridge’s absence, the Pack got back starting center Warren Washington, who missed the last eight games with a hand injury.
Washington was the Pack’s only other double figure scorer, totaling 12 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks in 28 minutes — his third double-double of the season. His 11 boards tied a season high, set on New Year’s Day versus New Mexico.
UNLV shot 38.7 percent — 46.9 percent in the second half — and 38.3 percent from 3-point range. It outscored Nevada by 21 from distance and tallied 15 more bench points than Nevada — two determining factors in regards to the result of the game.
Bryce Hamilton, the conference’s leading scorer on the season (21.5 ppg) and in Mountain West play (24.1 ppg), remained outstanding. He led the Rebels with 27 points on 10-of-25 shooting plus five triples on 13 attempts. He also grabbed eight boards while posting three assists and a steal.
He was their only scorer in double digits; Others notable performances include Royce Hamm Jr., who had five points with 12 boards, and Jordan McCabe, who added five points, four rebounds and dished out a team-high seven assists.
Back-to-back triples from Justin Webster and Hamilton put the Rebels ahead 13-8 with 14:05 remaining in the opening half. Will Baker’s sky hook gave Nevada the 19-18 advantage — its first lead of the night.
Both teams went over three-and-a-half minutes without a point before Washington’s hook shot put the Pack ahead 23-21 with over two minutes remaining in the opening half.
Nevada entered halftime with the 26-23 lead over the Rebels. It was quite the defensive half for the Pack, racking up nine stocks (steals + blocks), forcing nine total turnovers and holding UNLV to 30.0 percent shooting (33.3 from 3-point range). The Wolf Pack shot 40.0 percent from the floor and just 1-of-8 from deep in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Baker’s two-handed slam gave Nevada the 31-25 advantage, though an 15-3 Rebel run gave them the 40-34 lead with 12:29 to go. After a Hamilton stepback triple widened to seven, two consecutive layups from Foster and Washington trimmed it to 50-47 with 6:57 remaining — prompting a Rebel timeout.
Hamilton’s layup quickly widened it to 10 — 57-47 — with 4:32 left, and the Rebels didn’t look back. The Pack had just two field goals — one coming a Washington dunk with under two seconds left — on its final nine attempts.
Next up: Nevada hits the road for a two-game road trip, beginning with the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday at 5 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network.