FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Dayton – Game 3

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (3-0 / 0-0)  | Dayton Flyers (2-1 / 0-0)

Franchise Sports Media


The Runnin’ Rebels toppled No. 21 Dayton 60-52 by dominating the final 10 minutes through the strength of their defense


UNLV vs Dayton
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV’s starters against Dayton were Keshon Gilbert, Eli Parquet, E.J. Harkless, Luis Rodriguez, and David Muoka. Same starting lineup as the last two games. That combination has outscored their opponents 47-22.

UNLV shot out to a 4-0 lead early as Harkless started the game off by hitting a tough jumper. Then following a Dayton turnover, Rodriguez got fouled on the fastbreak layup and hit both free throws. This game was not what Dayton expected.

Although UNLV started this game off right, as Gilbert drills the three off of the space made from Harkless, the sophomore guard would come back down, get his pocket picked, and commit a flagrant one foul.

UNLV would then leave Dayton’s Mike Sharavjamts wide open as they were trying to help the post all game, and on some of these, they were burned, like this instance. UNLV would think they got lucky after R.J. Blakney missed a three, but Toumani Camara came out of nowhere and threw it back in, a taste of their own medicine. That putback dunk capped a 7-0 run. Dayton led UNLV 9-7 at 15:41.

Jackie Johnson III subbed in and immediately got to work by driving into the paint and throwing up a beautiful layup. Then UNLV was able to draw a charging call on Camara. Again, a staple of their defensive game, as that was already their second.

Kevin Kruger suddenly went with a small ball lineup, the only big on the floor being Victor Iwuakor. Now mind you, Iwuakor had a solid game that the stats won’t show. Still, this stretch of the game led to multiple offensive rebounds and scores inside for Dayton, forcing Kruger to put Muoka back in and abandon the small ball lineup entirely. 

This was nothing like the Incarnate Word game. UNLV had to fight to get clean looks the whole game. But for Dayton, they were working the inside as they scored back-to-back buckets from DaRon Holmes II and Kobe Elvis. Mind you, that was the story of the first half, not the second.

But Elvis was in his bag early as he shook off Jordan McCabe and hit a corner three, marking five straight points by Elvis, capping off a 15-2 run since falling behind 7-2. It was 17-9 at 10:44 in Dayton’s favor, forcing Kruger to call a timeout. UNLV also wasted a few good defensive possessions by not getting the rebound early on.

Coming out of the timeout, Johnson III split the double team at halfcourt and drove through to the basket for the layup. But Elvis continued to get to his spots and answered with a wide-open three. Gilbert fought all game and came right back and scored a tough layup underneath the hoop.


UNLV vs Dayton
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Defensive rebounding was still an issue even with Muoka on the court, but on this possession, the Runnin’ Rebels were bailed out with a travel violation called against Dayton. UNLV tried to capitalize off it but was held to a shot clock violation as Gilbert fell and set Johnson III up for a throw-up from behind the three line.

Once again, UNLV was too preoccupied with defending the post, and they gave up another three to Sharavjamts as Dayton led 20-13 at 7:41. Dayton also had a 15-5 rebound advantage but committed nine turnovers.

This was the most fired-up Kruger has been this season on the sideline, and it showed throughout the game as the crowd couldn’t stop erupting, especially after Harkless took Camara full-court and scored through contact, drawing the foul, and scored the free throw to cut the lead to six, 23-17.

The crowd went berserk again as Harkless made the contested three to bring it within three. But things start to falter a bit, as UNLV goes scoreless for more than five minutes, allowing Dayton to close on a 9-2 run. Starting with McCabe as he threw an errant pass to an unexpecting Johnson III, and it sailed out of bounds. Elvis came down and banked the layup off the glass, and then Sharavjamts made another three with a hand in his face as the lead was pushed to 32-22 in Dayton’s favor.


To end the first, despite UNLV’s defense proving that they’re legit, their offense shot just 29.2% overall and 18.2% from three. Along with being outrebounded 21-10, UNLV was not expected to do what they did next.


UNLV vs Dayton
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

To begin the second half, Camara was found on the bench with ice on his knee, and Holmes II limped to the locker room after Gilbert hit the floater over him. Holmes II contested and fell awkwardly as he was a bit slow to get up and promptly subbed himself out. Camara wouldn’t see the court at all in the second, and Holmes II would shortly return, but it wasn’t the same.

Blakney responded by making the tough layup over Muoka. Gilbert drove baseline and tried to lob it up to Muoka for the huge energizer, but Muoka was fouled on the way up and made only one free throw.

On the defensive end, Harkless didn’t help on the screen, giving Dayton another three. However, Harkless made up for it by making a three of his own, as Dayton led 37-28 at 15:50. Rodriguez would get things going for himself as he hit the three coming out of a timeout to pull within six.

On the other end, UNLV was able to get the stop. Justin Webster just checked in and drilled the three, Dayton tried to catch UNLV off-guard, but the Runnin’ Rebels drew another charge call, as Dayton now only led 37-34. Iwuakor gets the steal and bounces the ball over to Gilbert, who drew the foul on the three attempt. Gilbert could’ve tied the game but only made two out of three free throws.

You could feel the energy in the arena building for a very climactic ending, as the game is close at 38-36. Harkless then gets the ball at the free-throw line and works the defender for the shot off the glass. But Webster was then late on a three-point closeout, and Dayton was able to beat the shot clock with a three. Gilbert then answered with a score inside, with the score reading 41-40, with Dayton still in the lead. UNLV was on a 15-4 run while holding Dayton to 3-of-10 overall since halftime, with 11:33 remaining.

Gilbert scored again inside to take the lead, but Sharavjamts was left wide open again, and Muoka was too late on the closeout and paid for it. UNLV then forced the shot clock violation with tough defense from Iwuakor as he poked the ball away, forcing Elvis into a bad shot.


UNLV vs Dayton
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Harkless would tie the game once more on a pull-up from mid-range, then Mustapha Amzil, who had 20 points in Dayton’s last outing, tried to get it going for himself but was called for traveling, giving the ball back to an energized UNLV offense. Unfortunately, it was a fatal mistake as Gilbert and Harkless hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and suddenly UNLV had the lead. UNLV 50, Dayton 47 with 6:45 remaining.

Iwuakor extended the lead with a tough post shot, Dayton tried to answer with a lob, but Muoka was there to snatch it up. Harkless would hit another tough shot as he stops on a dime and spins around for the two. Harkless coming back on the other end gets involved with Dayton’s Blakney, and both get called for a technical.

Dayton trailed 54-47 at 3:54. An ugly half for Dayton, and UNLV had been a completely different team. As UNLV tried to break the full-court press, GIlbert turned the ball over and fouled in frustration, giving Dayton free throws. UNLV gets fouled back, and Harkless is sent to the line, making both and pushing their lead to 56-48.

Dayton tries the cross-court pass to the open man, which had worked all game, but Muoka was there to force it out of bounds. UNLV gets the stop, proving Muoka’s rebounding and presence had been crucial for the team. The script had been flipped, as UNLV was now grabbing all of the boards, outrebounding Dayton 17-10 so far in the 2nd half.

Muoka gets the steal after a Harkless turnover, leading to another Harkless bucket as he’s sent to the free throw line but does not convert the and-1 opportunity. But that was all she wrote as the final score read UNLV 60, Dayton 52.


Runnin’ Takeaways


UNLV vs Dayton
Photo Credit: Kyla LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Harkless poured in 24 points, and Gilbert scored 16 points as the Runnin’ Rebels took down the nation’s No. 21 team. Gilbert made 2 of 3 from 3-point range against Dayton, and he’s now 7-of-10 through three games. He made only seven 3-pointers for all of last year.

UNLV forced 24 turnovers and didn’t allow a field goal over the final 6:46. UNLV led Dayton, 50-47, with 6:46 remaining in the game. Over Dayton’s final 13 possessions, UNLV held them to 0 of 5 shooting while forcing five turnovers. That’s now 77 total turnovers forced for the season.

Despite Muoka’s massive impact on the game, he was a -5 in plus/minus. While Johnson III, Webster, and McCabe all had an average plus/minus of -13.67. Gilbert led the way with +27.

Sharavjamts scored 14 points on 4-6 from three. Elvis led the way for Dayton scoring 16 points and pulling in seven rebounds, but he also had six turnovers. Holmes II and Amzil combined for 40 points in their last game but only combined for five points in this one.

Dayton shot an efficient 45.8% overall in the first half but cratered to just 25.0% in the second half. All the while, UNLV improved from 18.2% from three in the first to 35.7% in the second.

Kruger, after the game, said, “That’s what they do in practice every day. They just compete like crazy, and it was just great to see it paid off for them because they fight, they scrap, and they compete every day. They want to be here. They want to be Rebels, and I’m just excited to get back in the gym.”

Don’t forget to go out and support the Runnin’ RebelsClick here to get your UNLV Runnin’ Rebels tickets! 


The Runnin’ Rebels will now host High Point Friday, November 18th at 7:00 pm at the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will be available to watch on the Mountain West Digital Network.

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-Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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