UNLV survives late comeback scare in win over Akron

Kalin Sipes-The Sporting Tribune
UNLV moved to 3-3 on the season despite a late scare on Monday night against Akron.

LAS VEGAS — For 37 and a half minutes, UNLV nursed a consistent double-digit lead and controlled the pace on both ends of the floor. They were as active as they’ve been all year on defense and had even found a bit of a rhythm shooting the rock. They held a 72-63 lead with under two minutes remaining in the game.

That’s when things got hairy for the Runnin’ Rebels. Akron proceeded to go on a 7-0 run over the course of the next minute, bringing the game to within two points when an Enrique Freeman basket made the score 72-70 with 47 seconds remaining.

Akron then scooped the defensive rebound off a Luis Rodriguez miss, and had an opportunity to tie or win the game with under 25 seconds left and the shot clock off.

The Rebels had one more stop in them though. They forced a deep three point attempt from Akron’s Mikal Dawson that bounced off the side of the rim and into the hands of DJ Thomas with two seconds left. Thomas was unable to convert the free throw attempts after being fouled, but managed to prevent Freeman from getting a full-court attempt off as the final buzzer sounded.

“You cannot simulate that situation where you’ve got a nine point lead, they’ve scored every possession for five straight and we’re sort of hanging on offensively”, coach Kevin Kruger said following the game. “Now what are we going to do next? You can’t simulate that in practice to an extent.”

He continued, “going through that, I think we went side to side a little bit. We didn’t quite have that same sharpness or quickness that we had in the first 37 minutes.”

It was a crucially important win for UNLV, who evened their record at 3-3 after dropping both games in Florida last week at the Sunshine Slam tournament.

Photo Gallery