Hawaiʻi blew a first-half lead as the runnin' Rebels ran to capture a 73-59 victory in the opening-round of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head classic on Saturday afternoon at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"(UNLV) smashed us inside the boards. I think our defense was pretty in the half court, making them shoot tough two's over-hand," head coach Eran Ganot said.
Hawaiʻi (6-5) escaped the first half with a 28-26 lead, but UNLV (6-4) answered back to capture the win.
'Bows sophomore guard Drew Buggs led the team with 16 points, shooting 7-of-14 from the line. 'Bows freshman center Mate Colina had a career-high 13 points, and 4-of-4 from the line.
"We did a really good job at responding in the first half," Buggs said. "But they kind of hit us in the mouth to start the game, and we weren't making shots. We were getting some good looks, but we weren't making shots."
The Rebels had a 18-10 lead at the 12-minute mark after hitting 3-of-6 3-pointers. UH had trouble as they shot 22.2 percent from the field, with five turnovers.
UNLV scored 16 of the last 18 points to take a 23-10 lead at 8:22.
UH rallied back with a 14-1 run as Colina scored six points with three minutes left. Colina made a dunk to make it 24-20 'Bows.
The 'Bows proceeded with a 18-3 run to take a 28-26 lead heading into the break.
UH gained a five-point lead early in the second half, but UNLV scored eight unanswered points to take a 41-35 lead. The 'Bows had a scoring drought for about six minutes as the Rebels went on a 17-1 run to lead 50-36 at 9:07.
"In the second half, we didn't execute to the level that we needed to defensively and on the glass to really keep that momentum going," Buggs said.
UNLV had 15 offensive rebounds as they led 50-38 with 8:15 left.
The Rebels shot 76 percent overall in compared to the 'Bows' 57 percent from the free-throw line. They also won the rebounding battle, 44 to UH's 29.
"The (rebounding) was a key to the game, and we didn't handle it," Ganot said.
The Rebels finished business with a 73-59 victory over the 'Bows. They advance to play Indiana State in the quarterfinals at 11 a.m.
The 'Bows will play Colorado, who lost in a 72-67 upset against Indiana State, tomorrow at 2p.m.
This story will be updated.