Runnin’ Rebels hold on in overtime against the Air Force Falcons 97-90 .
UNLV received a huge game from star freshman Brandon McCoy, as he finished with a game high 23 points.
The Runnin’ Rebels survive a late game push by the Falcons, which forced overtime, to advance to the next round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
For the third time this season, the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV and the Falcons of Air Force turned in a nail biting thriller, with UNLV ultimately pulling away in overtime for the 97-90 win.
For UNLV fans, this game appeared to be following an all too familiar blueprint. Control the game, but not enough to pull away, and then make costly mistakes down the stretch which allows the opponent to either win, or force overtime and then win.
With UNLV up three and just 24 seconds left, Air Force forward Frank Toohey received a pass in the block and while shooting, was fouled by Rebels guard Jovan Mooring. With the shot attempt still on the cylinder, Rebels forward Brandon McCoy, knocked the ball away for a goal tending violation. The shot wasn’t going to fall, so this was a very costly mistake from the freshman, as Toohey would hit his one free throw, completing the three point play, and tying the game.
On their ensuing possession, the Rebels were unable to run any type cohesive offensive set in the final 24 seconds, which has been all to common this year, settling for a long Mooring 3-pt attempt, which missed.
Heading into overtime, all the momentum was with the Falcons, and they opened the frame converting a lay up and a free throw, to take an early three point lead. The Rebels looked tired, and it felt like an overtime period that could get away from them if the Falcons were to score the next basket. Thankfully for the Rebels their season was saved, for at least one more day, by the play of their two star forwards, Brandon McCoy and Shakur Juiston.
After the Falcons took the lead, Rebels guard Jordan Johnson attempted an ill advised shot in the lane that was blocked and led to a fast break for Falcons guard Trevor Lyons. Instead of conceding the lay up, Juiston raced down court for a perfectly timed block on the Lyons shot. The rebound was collected by the Falcons Lavelle Scottie, who attempted, what he thought was going to be an easy put back, to only have a hustling McCoy come from behind and reject shot and secure the rebound and possession for UNLV. This was immediately followed up by a Jordan Johnson game tying 3-pointer. And from this point on the Rebels would seize the momentum and begin to pull away to secure the victory and advance in the tournament.
For the game, UNLV was led by center Brandon McCoy, who finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. His 17th double double of the season. McCoy’s front court mate, Shakur Juiston also had an impressive game, finishing with 21 points.
The Falcons were paced by Lavelle Scottie and Jacob Van, scoring 23 and 20 respectively.
Hopefully for all the fans of Mountain West Conference teams, this is just the first of many thrilling games in this tournament.
UNLV takes on the top seeded Wolf Pack from Nevada, Reno, tomorrow afternoon.