It was a lethargic start in Reno on Saturday night. A rivalry game, both the Rebels and Wolfpack looked focused but also out of sorts. Shots were not falling on either end, and the slow first half ended in a 25-24 score at halftime.
But, the second half was far different.
The intensity amped up and both teams played looser, executing offense more efficiently. Especially for UNLV, the first portion of the second half was characterized by immediate energy and pushing the ball up court as quickly as possible.
The Rebels had a scary moment in the first few minutes of the second half when forward Derrick Jones collided with a referee. He was ushered off the court with an apparent ankle injury. However, he reentered the game seemingly with no indication of major injury.
However, by the time he came back, the momentum was shifting to the Wolfpack. Marqueze Coleman finally hit his stride in the second half after being shut down for much of the first. Both teams in the bonus by the middle of the half, free throws became crucial down the stretch. Coleman hit on several important free throws as the game winded down.
With a little under six minutes left, Reno climbed back from a nine point deficit. The crowd of over 11,000 made the environment hostile for the Rebels. They cheered on their home town squad in hopes to will them to a victory despite sloppy play early in the second half.
Careless turnovers for the Rebels kept the game closer than it should have been for UNLV going down the stretch. And when they needed them most, UNLV could not buy a free throw (making only 14 of 28). This was especially true when Jerome Seagears went to the line to tie the game with under 15 seconds left and he only made one.
The Wolf Pack escaped with a two-point victory, 65-63. The Rebels fell to 3-4 in conference after riding a three-game winning streak. This is interim head coach, Todd Simon's, first loss.