FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs San Francisco – Game 11

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (10-1 / 0-0)  | San Francisco Dons (9-3 / 0-0)

Franchise Sports Media


UNLV controlled the majority of this game but somehow fell late as San Francisco rallied to hand the Runnin’ Rebels their first loss of the season


UNLV vs San Francisco
Photo Credit: Alon Sowell/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV men’s basketball was off to its best start in 32 years as they headed into their first home game in three weeks. Last time out against the Dons, UNLV suffered a 21-point loss against San Francisco last December. The Runnin’ Rebels had their chance at revenge. San Francisco was 8-3 overall heading into this one and was also 1-2 against the Mountain West, with both losses coming against UNM and USU

Eli Parquet didn’t practice earlier in the week due to the knee injury that he suffered against Washington State. Kevin Kruger was vague when he told reporters that Parquet was “going to be out for a little bit,” Kruger didn’t reveal the exact injury, and Parquet was seen in a knee brace after practice. Isaiah Cottrell was also still out due to his lingering foot injury.

As for the Dons, Saba Gigiberia, one of San Francisco’s 7-foot centers, was injured in the last game vs. New Mexico. However, he was seen warming up before the game vs. the Runnin’ Rebels and looked good to go. The Dons’ other 7-footer, Volodymyr Markovetskyy, did not make the trip to Vegas.

UNLV’s starting lineup vs. San Francisco was Keshon Gilbert, Justin Webster, E.J. Harkless, Luis Rodriguez, and David Muoka. Webster got his first start of the year for injured Parquet. This unit has logged just around two minutes per game together this season, and it was interesting to see with a new man aboard.

Webster wasted no time draining a three to take a 5-0 lead for UNLV to start the game. Despite some hype building around him, Kruger opted to sub-Webster out early for Jackie Johnson III. UNLV started hot but cooled off and allowed the Dons to get back into it with a quick 9-5 run, which featured all nine points coming off three-pointers.

Harkless kept the Rebels ahead as he had eight of UNLV’s 18 points with 12:34 remaining in the first half. Zane Meeks battled back as he bullied Victor Iwuakor inside and converted the and-1 layup, but Harkless was locked in and kept it pouring with a transition three off an assist from Webster to take their largest lead of the game at 23-15.

At this point, the momentum pendulum was swaying towards the Runnin’ Rebels, and Gilbert made sure to keep it rolling with a sweet floater inside after shifting his way to the rim. Harkless tried to create something but was halted and stripped of the rock as the Dons turned to a hybrid 1-3-1/2-3 zone, forcing consecutive turnovers before a timeout. The Rebels led 28-25.

Khalil Shabazz made it a one-point game after draining a deep mid-range jumper but was quelled by Johnson III making a contested three. But San Fran stayed in it after Meeks tipped in a missed shot. To end the first, Jordan McCabe stepped up for the go-ahead bucket and drained a three to take a nine-point lead as they headed into halftime.


At halftime, UNLV led 46-37. Spearheaded by Harkless with 13 points and co-starred with Johnson III as he had nine points. The Rebels held the Dons to just 38.2% shooting from the field, but 11 second-chance points off ten offensive rebounds kept them in the game.


UNLV vs San Francisco
Photo Credit: Alon Sowell/Franchise Sports Media

San Fran started the second half off right with a quick 4-0 run highlighted by Isaiah Hawthorne as he hit a step-back jumper over Muoka. That would’ve been a compounding problem if it weren’t for Harkless keeping things going as he buried a jumper on the baseline to keep a 54-45 lead with 16:07 to play.

Both teams went scoreless for nearly three minutes as both were making careless mistakes and turnovers in transition. The drought was nullified after Shabazz made his first three of the game. He was 0 for six beforehand from distance. McCabe started to get careless with the ball as he had a miscommunication with Muoka on a failed lob attempt, and he had another turnover but was bailed out by Rodriguez.

Through those mistakes, the Dons capitalized and cut the Rebel lead to four points with less than eight minutes left to play. Harkless took things into his own hands as he scored inside with three defenders surrounding him. It may have been too little too late as Shabazz made another three, signifying that San Fran had the momentum. Harkless needed to stay hot as, without him, this game would’ve looked a lot different. Harkless secured a five-point lead as they headed into another timeout.

The Dons were looking to press the issue, and full court pressed the Rebels. Webster shrugged it off and scored an easy floater. San Fran looked to recover, but Iwuakor intercepted a pass, and he went the length to throw down a crowd-erupting dunk. Despite that crazy sequence, UNLV only led by three after Tyrell Roberts made a three to keep things at 73-70 with just 1:19 left to play.

Gilbert got sloppy and turned over the ball which led to another score for Meeks with Iwuakor guarding. Harkless seemed to cool off as he missed a jumper, and San Fran had the ball with a chance to take the lead. With just four seconds left on the shot clock, Roberts took the lead off a fading three over Gilbert. From a biased standpoint, that was pure luck. If we’re staying neutral, it was still part luck.

The Rebels had their chance to either tie the game or take the lead with 7.2 seconds remaining but opted to take the lead, with Gilbert taking the final shot on a deep three. A head-scratching decision as Harkless was the man all night, and surely a better shot could’ve been achieved. Nevertheless, you can’t win them all, and UNLV fell to San Francisco 75-73. The Dons closed this game on an 11-0 run and handed the Rebels their first loss of the season.


Runnin’ Takeaways


Harkless did his thing with 21 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. However, he did commit five turnovers. Rodriguez stepped up once more with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Gilbert took the last shot despite only totaling six points on 3-9 from the field, 0-3 from three, and committing five turnovers.

Meeks was the star for the Dons with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Shabazz, per his usual, put up 17 points and seven rebounds. Roberts was San Fran’s savior with 17 points and the game-winning three.


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


The Runnin’ Rebels will now stay home at the Thomas & Mack Center to take on Southern Mississippi Thursday, December 22nd, at 7:00 pm PT. The game will be available to watch on MWN/SSSEN.

UNLV vs San Francisco    UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco      UNLV vs San Francisco                                                                                                                                

-Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Jake on Twitter @jguchi

Follow Jake on IG @jguchi

Follow The Franchise on Social Media