Final, UNLV wins 56-48
It wasn’t pretty, and late in the game, it even got a bit scary.
But UNLV did enough to hold on for a 56-48 victory over Wyoming in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament. The Rebels now advance to face New Mexico at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the second semifinal of the evening. They’ll follow a meeting between Colorado State and San Diego State.
Both semifinals should be hotly contested and feature teams that split the season series with each other.
After his blistering first half performance, Mike Moser didn’t score his first second-half points until late on a 14-foot fadeaway jumper that helped stop a furious Cowboy rally once and for all. On the night, Moser had 22 points and 14 rebounds, marking his second double-double against Wyoming in five days.
Offensively, it was a bit of an uncharacteristic performance for UNLV who had only nine assists on 20 made baskets. A lot of that had to do with Wyoming’s signature defense, which remained stingy despite the early hole the Cowboys dug themselves into.
Another notable number in the contest was Oscar Bellfield’s five assists, which made him the conference’s all-time leader in that category.
For more on Thursday’s game, stay tuned to RunRebs.com
Halftime, UNLV leads 28-11
It’s only half-way over, but it feels pretty over.
UNLV holds a commanding 28-11 edge on Wyoming at the break here at the Thomas & Mack Center, as the Cowboys went just 2-of-24 from the floor in the first half.
Outside of Mike Moser, UNLV wasn’t great, going 4-of-18 from the floor, but, again, the Rebels have Mike Moser, who went 8-of-12 in the first half and now has 18 points to go with eight rebounds (seven defensive).
UNLV had a tough time controlling a physical game against Wyoming last weekend, but that hasn’t been the case tonight. They’re out-rebounding Wyoming 23-17, and have forced seven turnovers. Plenty of credit should go to Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins, who have lived up to their defensive billings on the perimeter.
This looks almost like an insurmountable deficit right now for Wyoming, taking everything into consideration. It looks like UNLV-New Mexico could be capping a big night of semifinal action at the Mack on Friday.
6:22, First Half, UNLV leads 18-6
It’s the Mike Moser show so far, as he’s held the key to breaking the slow cycle against Wyoming.
The UNLV sophomore forward, who broke out of a four-game funk with a 17-point, 12-rebound performance against Wyoming on Saturday, has 13 points in the game’s first 13 minutes, helping push UNLV to an 18-6 lead.
Outside of Moser, who is 6-of-9 from the floor, the two teams are a combined 4-of-30 from the floor in what has been an ugly game to this point.
Moser is doing it in every way, too. He’s hit outside jumpers, mid-range jumpers, had an impressive coast-to-coast finish and even had a highlight-worthy tip-in of a Chace Stanback 3-point miss.
UNLV is also manning up on the glass, holding a 16-12 edge so far on the boards over the Cowboys.
As for the atmosphere, more UNLV fans have trickled in here in the earlygoing, making it feel more and more like a home atmosphere as the game progresses.
The key now for UNLV is sustaining this momentum, which has been an issue in the season’s second half. This is a good spot to do it, though, as Wyoming is not a team built to come back from double-digit deficits.
UNLV’s quarterfinal showdown with Wyoming tonight in the Mountain West Conference tournament will be a nightcap to what has been a tremendous and entertaining day at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Before the No. 3 Rebels and No. 6 Cowboys get underway, here’s a look back at what went down in the day’s first three contests, helping set up what should be another epic Friday night in MWC tourney play …
(As for my official UNLV/Wyoming prediction, I’m going with the Rebels in a tight, physical game … 67-61.)
No. 1 San Diego State 65, No. 8 Boise State 62
The Aztecs tried their hardest to let an 8-point lead disappear with 3:10 left to play in the day’s first game.
Actually, that lead did disappear.
A furious rally by Boise State in the game’s closing minutes ultimately saw the two tied at 62-62 before the league’s Player of the Year — San Diego State sophomore wing Jamaal Franklin — delivered one of the year’s more awkward game-winners. After a botched hand-off from teammate Xavier Thames, he wound up having to hoist up a 25-foot 3-pointer at an angle over a pair of defenders.
And it still went in.
San Diego State survived against what has to be one of the toughest last-place teams in America, but it came at a cost. Four of the Aztecs’ four starters had to play at least 37 minutes in the game, as Steve Fisher’s bench is brutally short at this point.
Franklin finished with 19 points and five rebounds, while Chase Tapley had a monster second half, finishing with a game-high 20 points. Thames had 14 of his own along with five rebounds and three assists.
What kind of effect will the extensive minutes from the starters have on SDSU come Friday night? We’ll see at 6 p.m., when they take on No. 4 Colorado State.
No. 4 Colorado State 81, No. 5 TCU 60
In a game that many around the country looked at as an NCAA tournament play-in game of sorts for the Rams, Tim Miles’ club was as sharp as ever.
Colorado State dominated from the start despite being without key junior forward Greg Smith, who missed the game with a sprained ankle and was confined to a walking boot.
The Rams also had to play all five starters extensively, with each of them going at least 27 minutes. But they were crisp from start to finish. They were 30-of-57 from the floor, while out rebounding a team that had a significant size advantage, 38-27.
Six Rams scored in double-figures, but no one shined quite like undersized-yet-productive power forward Pierce Horning, who had 16 points, 14 rebounds and earned plenty of hustle points everywhere on the floor.
The Rams got to the 20-win barrier for the first time under Tim Miles, and likely gave themselves a pretty nice safety net for Selection Sunday. But a win over the Aztecs on Friday night would likely put that bid in ink.
No. 2 New Mexico 79, No. 7 Air Force 64
In the one contest of the day that didn’t look like it would be all that close, New Mexico advanced with one of its cleanest quarterfinal wins at the MWC tournament in recent years.
The Lobos slugged the Falcons with a big first-half spurt, and then held them at arm’s length the rest of the way.
The big spark for New Mexico came off of the bench in the first half, when Demetrius Walker scored 14 of his career-high 19 points.
Also notable from this one, though, was the presence of the New Mexico faithful, as the Lobos had the largest fan representation of any team visiting Las Vegas this weekend.