UNLV seniors earn first road win of careers at San Diego State
With NBA scouts littered throughout the media section, a violently raucous crowd cheering every Aztec bucket and jeering every Runnin’ Rebels score, UNLV had their collective backs against the wall.
That’s just how they like it.
Anthony Marshall scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds lead UNLV to a wild 82-75 victory over conference rival San Diego State University.
UNLV head coach Dave Rice said after the game that the win is dedicated to the team’s seniors, who were previously winless at San Diego.
With Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett in foul trouble early on in the game, it was Marshall who, for all intents and purposes, willed the team to a career-defining victory that demoralized one fan base and electrified another.
Though Bennett converted on crowd-quieting dunks early in the first half, the eager freshman received a technical foul and was benched for long periods throughout the game.
Indeed, during the nail-biting, legacy-creating moments in the emotionally-charged second half, it was Marshall’s heroics — with both Moser and Bennett on the bench — that gave the scouts what they came to see and made Wednesday night a historic day for Rebel Nation.
Marshall drove the lane on countless plays in the second half, lowering his head and converting layups against a virtually nonexistent San Diego State defensive post presence.
San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin kept the Aztecs in the game, as the junior guard finished with 27 points. Though Franklin made just nine of 21 shots, he was a cool 8-of-10 from the line.
SDSU’s Winston Shepard was fearless in the second half, helping the Aztecs mount a comeback attempt behind incredible momentum and defeaning cheers from the team’s fans.
Shepard finished with 18 points and Chase Tapley supplied 16 points for the Aztecs.
Freshman Katin Reinhardt matched Marshall for a UNLV team-high 34 minutes played.
UNLV sophomore starter Khem Birch logged 27 minutes and led the Rebels with three offensive rebounds (five total). Birch was efficient shooting the ball and converted easy dunks, helping the Rebels fill the void with Bennett and Moser on the bench.
Senior Justin Hawkins helped Marshall direct traffic throughout the game. Hawkins and Marshall provided the stability and leadership the team desperately needed while SDSU matched UNLV shot-for-shot in their comeback bid.
UNLV will stay on the road to face Colorado State University on Saturday. The Rams have won a program-record 23 straight home games and will look to upset the surging Rebels.
The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. pacific time.