FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Boise State – Game 32

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (19-13, 7-11 MWC) | Boise State Broncos (24-8, 13-5)

Franchise Sports Media


The Runnin’ Rebels’ season ended in the Mountain West quarterfinal after suffering a heartbreaking loss in overtime to the Boise State Broncos 87-76

It was UNLV vs Boise State in a Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal matchup. 

UNLV vs Boise State Jordan McCabe
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV Men’s basketball team ran out of gas in overtime against the Boise State Broncos, shooting just 1-of-9 from the field. E.J. Harkless missed his final five shots and fouled out with 42 seconds left to play.

In his final college game, Harkless finished with 18 points (7-for-18 FGs, 2-for-7 3s), six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and six turnovers to pace the Rebels.

You know, we’ve been hit with a lot of adversity this year. Injuries, everything like that, defines us. We always fought back,” Harkless said. “That was our biggest message. You know, obviously, this would be our last game together. So just go out there and give it all we got.”

UNLV got solid contributions from Justin Webster, who also had 18 points (6-for-12 FGs, 5-for-10 3s), four rebounds, and three assists.

For me, It’s something I got to talk to my family about and try to decide what my future is,” Webster said when asked about his future with the team. “It’s something that I want to think about when I’m talking to coaches, talking to my family, you know, praying about it, and just go from there.”

UNLV vs Boise State would have a valiant comeback by the Runnin’ Rebels.

Jordan McCabe totaled 10 points (4-for-8 FGs, 2-for-4 3s), three rebounds, and two steals. Keshon Gilbert and Luis Rodriguez came off the bench and combined for 14 points (5-for-9 FGs, 3-for-5 3s) and five rebounds.

The UNLV vs Boise State start of the first half. 

UNLV vs Boise State Jackie Johnson
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Obviously, a great game. The guys did an unbelievable job fighting. It had a feeling that we were gonna chip away at it, and they did, couldn’t be more proud,” Kevin Kruger said. “I thought the second half was certainly the representation that this team deserves to be remembered by, just how hard they fought and how much they competed. They did everything they needed to give themselves a chance to win.”

For Boise State, Naje Smith scored six of his 18 points (5-for-8 FGs, 2-for-4 3s, 6-for-7 FTs) in overtime. Smith also added six rebounds and two assists for the Broncos, who will play the No. 3 seed, the Utah State Aggies, in the semifinals.

Marcus Shaver Jr. added 17 points (6-for-9 FGs, 3-for-5 3s, 2-for-5 FTs), eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Tyson Degenhart recorded 16 points (7-for-16 FGs, 2-for-5 3s) and eight rebounds, while Chibuzo Agbo totaled 16 points (6-for-10 FGs, 3-for-5 3s) and six boards.

You can’t beat a team like that in the first half on their home court, you know, you’re not going to knock them out,” head coach of the Broncos Leon Rice said. “Credit to our guys for their resiliency and their toughness to be able to get that done because a lot of teams couldn’t do that under those circumstances where a team comes back on the home floor.”

Boise State came out hot from deep in this one, opening up the game with four straight 3’s. The Broncos also had little difficulty finding open shots against the UNLV defense, as they dominated the Rebels on both ends of the court, taking a 33-16 lead. UNLV struggled to find a rhythm on offense, and they also looked a step slow on defense.

The UNLV vs Boise State end of the first half. 

The Rebels made a small run powered by 3s from Harkless and Webster to cut the lead to 14, but Boise State was on fire from 3. They were 10-for-14 from 3, and Jace Whiting beat the halftime buzzer with a long two to restore a 16-point lead for the Broncos.

The UNLV vs Boise State start of the second half. 

UNLV vs Boise State EJ Harkless
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV found a rhythm late in the game, as they only trailed by six points, and a 15-2 run got the Rebels back into it. Shane Nowell and Webster started it off with back-to-back 3’s, and Harkless capped it with an old-fashioned 3-point play.

Webster hit his fifth 3-pointer, then Harkless drove and finished through contact to give UNLV its first lead of the game. The Rebels had gone from down 22 points to a lead. The Utah State student section and UNLV fans were all in on the Rebels sending Boise State home. 

Rodriguez buried a clutch triple in the corner, and Kruger called timeout, trailing 72-70 with 1:13 to play.

Down two with 23 seconds remaining, they put the ball in Harkless’ hands. However, as he began his drive to the rim, he slipped. Boise State recovered, and UNLV was forced to foul.

In a final effort to tie the game, Harkless’ 3 came up short, but Nowell, who hadn’t touched a basketball in at least 90 minutes of real-time, checked in for the final possession, tracked down an offensive rebound, and nailed an off-balance three just before the buzzer to tie the score. 

However, UNLV struggled in overtime, and that sealed their fate. It was a valiant effort. The Rebels fought tooth and nail, yet, they haven’t been to the semifinals in the Mountain West Tournament since 2014. UNLV finished the season 19-13.

It should be remembered as a group that fought like crazy. They battled,” Kruger said on the legacy of this year’s team. “They won some tough road wins. A group that’s incredibly competitive. A group that fights.”

The UNLV vs Boise State final score, 87-76, Boise State. 

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


The Runnin’ Rebels have finished their season with a final record of 19-13. Thank you from Franchise Sports Media for following along with us during the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels season.


-Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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