#20 UNLV Hangs On to Defeat Rainbow Warriors
LAS VEGAS – The blueprint for success in defeating nationally ranked UNLV is usually comprised of a quick moving defense and an aggressive offensive gameplan over a full forty minutes of play.
Unfortunately for Gib Arnold’s Rainbow Warriors, they only got that for nearly twenty minutes.
Despite a sluggish first half in which the University of Hawai`i trailed by as much as 26 points, the ‘Bows hurried back into the game and trailed by as little as eight points before falling to the Running Rebels by the score of 77-63 in front of 15,431 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
When describing the first twenty minutes, Arnold said that he “didn’t recognize that team.” His squad turned the ball over 12 times and show 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, with many of those shots not even getting close to dropping.
“We were playing on our heels. We weren’t talking. We were playing scared quite honestly,” said Arnold. “We let the emotion, maybe the crowd, maybe the team get to us a little bit. It just wasn’t who we are.”
Hawai’i led twice in the game, 2-0 twenty seconds in and 4-3 nearly two minutes into the game. UNLV led the rest of the way, and put the pressure on the visitors within the first five minutes. With a 10-8 lead, the Running Rebels went on a 13-0 run spanning 3:21 to push the score to 23-8 with 11:28 remaining in the half.
The UNLV lead hit 26 points following a Savon Goodman free throw with :48 remaining in the first half. Hawai`i would follow with an 8-0 run spanning the final seconds of the first half and the first 3:55 of the second half. Christian Standhardinger, a transfer from the University of Nebraska, scored six of those eight points.
A short time later, Hawai`i would embark on another 8-0 run, once again paced by a pair of layups from Standhardinger. That cut the UNLV lead to 11 at 55-44 with 11:30 remaining.
Every time Hawai`i seemed to take the momentum completely out of the arena, UNLV found ways to take it right back. The Rainbow Warriors cut the deficit to eight with 6:03 remaining after a pair of free throws from Vander Joaquim. On the next inbound play, UNLV’s Katin Reinhardt found himself wide open in the right corner of the court. He drained a key trey to push the lead back to 11. After another Joaquim free throw, the Running Rebels quickly got back up the floor and moved the defense away from Justin Hawkins, who drained a left corner three to give his team a 67-54 lead with 5:13 remaining.
The Warriors would find themselves down by eight again with 2:58 remaining after two more Joaquim free throws, but would not score again in the 14 point loss.
Considering the frustrating first half, Gib Arnold felt proud of his team’s second half effort to make it a game.
“We talked about winning every four minute battle between timeouts,” explained Arnold. “I think we won just about every one there.”
Eleven days after a 27 point, 7 rebound performance against the University of North Dakota, Standhardinger did three rebounds better, finishing with a double-double as the most consistent and aggressive offensive threat on the floor. He shot 9-of-24 from the field and hit 9-of-12 from the foul line.
“Christian had a little bit of an advantage driving their (UNLV’s) bigs…so we started calling more iso plays and trying to get them into the open court just taking into the hole. That was really good for us.”
Joaquim added 12 points and nine rebounds on 3-of-10 shooting. His first half performance was especially frustrating, where he scored only two points on 1-of-6 shooting. He was 0-for-2 from beyond the arc, and after the second miss, showed visible frustration as he was summoned to the bench. Joqauim, however, did hit the team’s only trey, highlighting Hawai`i’s cold 1-for-18 long distance game.
Four players finished in double-digits for UNLV. Freshman Anthony Bennett led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds. He also blocked three shots and dished out a pair of assists. Bennett shot 2-for-2 from beyond the arc as well.
Savon Goodman came off of the bench to score 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go with seven rebounds. Reinhardt and Mike Moser added 10 points each.
Hawai`i (4-2) returns home to face Pepperdine on Saturday, October 8. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and can be heard on ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com
Hawai`i 27 36 – 63
UNLV 49 28 – 77