Another close loss mars Tark’s tribute night

It was almost the perfect way to honor the top sporting icon in UNLV history, Jerry Tarkanian.

Almost.

Special commemorative Tark towels. Check.

Blue “Ghost” chair honoring Tarkanian on the Rebel bench. Check.

Pregame video tribute. Check.

Historic dimming of the lights on The Strip and other key locations in Las Vegas and Reno. Check.

Defeating Boise State. Oops.

In a season that has become best known for coming close, the Rebels once again came up just short at the wire, dropping a 53-48 decision to the Broncos before a crowd of 13,675 at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday night.

Derrick Marks scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the second half, including both ends of a 1-and-1 with 34.6 seconds left that proved to be the game-winning points as the Broncos (19-7, 9-4) handed UNLV (14-12, 5-8) its sixth Mountain West loss by five points or less, including a pair of one-pointers and two two-pointers.
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UNLV lost despite holding Boise State to 37.8 percent shooting, including 2-of-20 from 3-point range, and forcing 14 turnovers. But the Rebels were even worse offensively, shooting 30 percent from the floor, including 2-of-18 from 3-point range.

“I liked our fight,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “We’ve just got to keep playing. I think it’s a situation where we’ve had a lot of close games, we’ve just to get ourselves over the hump. We’ve got to go make a play.”

UNLV trailed 42-35 with 8:41 to go after James Webb III, who finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, scored on a fast break dunk.

But the Rebels went on a 9-2 run capped by Goodluck Okonoboh basket to tie it, 44-44, with about three minutes remaining.

Rob Heyer’s driving basket on the ensuing possession put Boise State ahead to stay, 46-44, although the Rebels had plenty of chances down the stretch, including a pair of missed 3-pointers by Jelan Kendrick in the final 23 seconds.

“We just had a few too many missed inside baskets and we had a few too many turnovers at critical times,” Rice said.

“It’s real disappointing,” guard Cody Doolin, who scored UNLV’s final basket on a drive with 16 seconds left to cut the Boise State lead to 51-48, said. “Both teams did a real good job defensively. Like coach said, it was really physical out there. Guys were having a little trouble getting to their spots. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing our sets. We just didn’t do that well today.”

Kendrick finished with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals while Christian Wood, who didn’t start the game after missing an academic meeting on Tuesday, added his 15th double-double with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting and 10 rebounds.

UNLV, which seems almost assured of a bottom four finish and an extra game in the Mountain West Tournament, now hits the road for back-to-back games at New Mexico on Saturday and Utah State on Tuesday.

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