UNLV fans, Dave Rice feels your pain.
Not long after the Rebels fell to 1-3 in Mountain West play with a disjointed 82-73 loss to Boise State at Taco Bell Arena, Rice vented his frustrations on his postgame radio show.
Rice was upset with his team’s surprisingly lethargic start while falling behind 38-30 at halftime, a poor shot selection at the end of regulation and also the team’s complete meltdown in overtime when UNLV turned the ball over on six of its 10 possessions and scored just one field goal.
“People should be frustrated,” Rice said. “We’re frustrated. The students are frustrated, the fans should be frustrated. I understand that 100 percent. It’s my responsibility to fix it, and we’re going to fix it.”
“Coming into this season we knew there were going to be a lot of downs. I didn’t know it would feel this down, but people have a right to be frustrated. We played a very solid second half but we didn’t play well in he first half and we certainly didn’t play well in overtime, and that’s absolutely not enough and it’s unacceptable. When you put the UNLV uniform on, we understand the responsibility and the expectation. Period.”
Derrick Marks scored a game-high 28 points to lead Boise State (11-6, 1-3), which outscored UNLV (10-7, 1-3) in overtime, 14-5.
Rashad Vaughn led the Rebels with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals while Patrick McCaw added a career-high 17 points, including 4-of-7 3-pointers, and Christian Wood, despite going scoreless in an uninspired first half, added 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
UNLV had a chance to win it at the end of regulation but blew a pair of chances. McCaw, who carried the Rebels for much of the second half, missed the second half of a one-and-one with 24.5 seconds left that would have put UNLV up by three and Marks then tied it, 68-68, when he drove to the key and scored over Vaughn with 13.1 seconds left.
The Rebels had a timeout left but Rice shunned using it, not wanting to give Boise State a chance to set its defense. Didn’t matter. Vaughn dribbled the clock down and fired up a NBA 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer that wasn’t close.
“We work on all the time, in that situation, that you attack the basket, you don’t settle for a 3,” Rice said. “You attack the basket!”
UNLV actually took a 71-68 lead in overtime after a Vaughn 3-pointer with 3:35 left. But Boise State’s trapping press forced two turnovers by Cody Doolin (12 points) and Wood chipped in with another and the Broncos took the lead for good when former Canyon Springs star Mikey Thompson drove around Wood for layup to make it 74-71 with 2:22 to go.
UNLV finished with 15 turnovers, including two by Jordan Cornish on back-to-back possessions in the final 1:05 of OT when the Broncos pulled away with a game-closing 8-0 run.
“We went into overtime and lost our mojo again,” Rice said. “We’ve got to find it quickly.”
That they do. Next up is a Saturday afternoon game at San Diego State (12-4, 2-1). On paper that figures to be a bad matchup for a young Rebels squad that has been pushed around recently inside by the likes of Nevada and again after halftime on Tuesday night when Boise State had 10 of its 11 offensive rebounds resulting in 10 second chance points. The Aztecs have won 12 of the last 16 meetings between the two schools, including all three last season by an average of 9.3 points.
“We were a missed free throw and one defensive stop from winning the game but that still wouldn’t have made up for how we played in the first half,” Rice said. “It’s a very, very debilitating, difficult loss for sure.”