Ntambwe scores career-high 18 points, while Diong tallies first career double-double
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UNLVRebels.com) – Trailing by 14 points with eight minutes to go, the UNLV men’s basketball team (4-4) charged back to cut its deficit to just two late, but lost 77-74 at Illinois (3-7) on Saturday at the State Farm Center.
UNLV used a 9-2 spurt in the final two minutes and had a chance to tie the game on the final possession. Sophomore guard Amauri Hardy looked like he was going to shoot a 3-pointer, but passed the ball instead and it was stolen to seal the win for the Fighting Illini.
Three Runnin’ Rebels scored in double figures, led by freshman forward Joel Ntambwe’s career-high 18 points. He was 5 for 9 from the field, including 2 of 2 on 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Mbacke Diong recorded the first double-double of his career with 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, while Hardy finished with 11 points. Ntambwe’s seven rebounds is also a career high.
Illinois also had three score in double figures: Andres Feliz (19), Kipper Nichols (12) and Ayo Dosunmu (10).
STAT OF THE GAME: UNLV shot a season-low 33.8 percent from the field (23 of 68).
QUOTABLE: “I hate to say I’m proud of my guys on a loss, but it’s the truth. They fought when things could have went left on them again. It was another situation like we had against Cincinnati where the score could have gone the other way. They showed a lot of gumption, fight and grit, but the win just wasn’t meant to be today. Illinois is a very talented team. They don’t have a great record, but they obviously have a lot of versatility and they are a tough team to guard when they go small.” – UNLV Head Coach Marvin Menzies
– Illinois is now 5-2 all-time vs. the Runnin’ Rebels after avenging its loss to UNLV at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last year.
– UNLV forced 19 Illinois turnovers, but committed 17 of its own.
– UNLV allowed Illinois to score 40 of its points in the paint.
– The Illini led 40-34 at halftime.
– UNLV has now lost three straight games.
– UNLV has out-rebounded its opponent in all eight of its games this season, including 42-36 vs. Illinois.
– UNLV has made at least one 3-pointer in a NCAA-record 1,047 straight games.
NEXT FOR THE RUNNIN’ REBELS: UNLV will play BYU at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. It is part of the Neon Hoops Showcase benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer, with LSU vs. Saint Mary’s to follow. Tickets may be purchased at RunninRebelsOnTheStrip.com.