It was not Anthony Marshall’s final regular-season home game, so there was no ceremony to honor UNLV’s three seniors, but he decided to make it his night anyway.
With the Rebels on the ropes, Marshall refused to lose, displaying a determination and will to win when it was desperately needed.
“When we got down, I tried to put the team on my back,” he said.
Marshall scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half to help UNLV overcome a 10-point deficit and defeat Boise State 68-64 on Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I think one of his great qualities is he just hates to lose,” coach Dave Rice said after the Rebels (23-7, 10-5 Mountain West) closed in on securing the No. 2 seed in next week’s conference tournament.
New Mexico has clinched the league title. UNLV, which leads Colorado State by a half-game, can finish second by beating Fresno State on Saturday, when Marshall and seniors Justin Hawkins and Quintrell Thomas will be honored.
Marshall was the driving force behind the Rebels’ comeback, but freshman Katin Reinhardt added the finishing touch.
Reinhardt’s 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left gave UNLV a five-point lead. His shot took a high bounce off the rim and dropped in, and Hawkins’ steal on the other end sealed the Broncos’ fate.
Boise State (20-9, 8-7) was without its top two scorers, Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks, down the stretch. Drmic scored 22 points before fouling out with 1:03 to go. Marks was a marked man by the officials — and the victim of a couple of questionable calls — and fouled out with 3:23 remaining.
“It always impacts the game when you’re playing without your best players,” Rice said. “Without question, Boise State is a much better team with Marks and Drmic on the floor. I thought we did a good job of attacking them.”
Drmic’s 10 points helped the hot-shooting Broncos control the first half. But the Rebels took only three minutes to erase a 32-25 halftime deficit, and they took their first lead, 33-32, on Bryce Dejean-Jones’ dunk.
“I was disappointed with our performance in the first half. We could not make a shot from the perimeter,” Rice said. “They are just hard to guard. We had a hard time getting to their 3-point shooters.”
Boise State spread the floor with shooters and dissected the UNLV defense, forcing Rice to go to a small lineup that helped only a little but just enough.
Thomas Bropleh’s 3-pointer from the corner put the Broncos up 45-35 with 10:32 left, and they maintained that margin until the nine-minute mark.
A 3-pointer by Reinhardt and two free throws from Khem Birch put UNLV on top 48-47 with 6:31 to go. But Jeff Elorriaga answered with 3-pointers on Boise State’s next three possessions as it regained the lead, 56-50, with five minutes remaining.
Another 3 from Reinhardt and a three-point play by Marshall helped the Rebels surge ahead 58-56 with 3:23 to play. Marshall spun to the basket and was fouled by Marks, who went to the bench to watch with the crowd of 15,295. Marks, who scored a career-high 38 points in a victory over Colorado State on Saturday, played only 18 minutes and finished with four points.
Boise State connected on 13 of 25 3-pointers, with Elorriaga (19 points) making five and Drmic and Mikey Thompson hitting three apiece.
“They keep four shooters on the floor at all times, so they’re a matchup problem,” Marshall said. “Boise is a great team, an NCAA Tournament team.”
UNLV shot 4-for-16 from 3-point range, and Reinhardt was 1-for-6 before sinking two clutch 3s in the final four minutes.
“A lot of my shots were good looks, they just didn’t go in. I was frustrated because I knew I should be making those shots,” Reinhardt said. “But I just went out and hit some big shots.”
Dejean-Jones also had 16 points for the Rebels, who outscored the Broncos 22-7 on free throws.
Reinhardt and freshman forward Anthony Bennett finished with 11 points apiece, and Bennett added eight rebounds and four blocks.
But the night belonged mostly to Marshall, who shot 5-for-6 from the field, and 6-for-7 on free throws. The point guard also had seven assists, five rebounds and no turnovers in 37 minutes, leading UNLV to its fifth consecutive win.
“I just tried to do whatever we needed,” Marshall said. “We’re really on a good run right now.”
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.
UNLV — 68
BOISE STATE — 64
KEY: Anthony Marshall scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half to lead the Rebels back from a 10-point deficit.
NEXT: Fresno State at UNLV, 3 p.m. Saturday, Thomas & Mack Center, TWCS (66), KWWN (1100 AM, 98.9 FM)