UNLV defense, athleticism too much for Holy Cross

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guards Oscar Bellfield, left, and Steve Jones put the pressure on Holy Cross guard R.J. Evans during the first half of Wednesday’s game at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 80-59.

Holy Cross vs UNLV

Tre'Von Willis dropped 14 points on 7-11 shooting and UNLV scored 32 points off 24 turnovers as the Rebels beat Holy Cross 80-59 Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV vs. Holy Cross

UNLV guard Justin Hawkins glides in for a basket against Holy Cross during the second half of the team's Nov. 25 game at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won, 80-59, as Hawkins tallied 12 points. Launch slideshow »

The UNLV basketball team played suffocating defense Wednesday night for parts of its 80-59 victory against Holy Cross.

The Rebels forced the Patriot League school into 24 turnovers, which led to 32 points and UNLV’s fourth victory in as many games to open the season.

Holy Cross coach Sean Kearney said his team practiced for UNLV’s aggressive style, but they had a hard time simulating the athleticism of the Rebels’ key players.

“Their length on the perimeter really bothered us,” Kearney said. “We expected it and worked against it, but it was pretty hard to recreate. We just gave up too many turnovers that led to easy layups and dunks for them.”

Derrick Jasper, the Rebels’ 6-foot-6, guard, led UNLV with four steals and the 6-foot-8 Chace Stanback had three steals.

That helped open the floodgates for the Rebels, which limited Holy Cross (0-5) to 37-percent shooting and nine assists.

“The one thing we thought going in is that we were going to have to pick our poison with a talented group like they have,” Kearney said.

The game wasn’t a complete loss for Holy Cross. Kearney found several positives as the Crusaders navigate through what he calls the program’s toughest schedule in 10 years.

Holy Cross held UNLV to 4-of-20 shooting on 3-pointers and out-rebounded the Rebels 40-36.

“To out-rebound a team from a conference like the Mountain West in certainly encouraging,” said Kearney, a first-year coach who spent the last nine seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame.

Guard R.J. Evans led Holy Cross with 13 points and was the Crusaders’ lone scorer to reach double figures.

“We knew they’re a good team,” Evans said. “They’re undefeated. We had a game plan, but they got us in transition defense. They pushed it on us, and we didn’t play very good defense today. They pressured us a lot. We didn’t expect that much pressure.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].

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  1. Rebels!

  2. clown

  3. Of all the stats in basketball rebounding has to be the least important. If you're gonna lose at any of the stats, it might as well be rebounding.

  4. Great game! A little quiet though from the crowd, definitely not even 1/10 as loud as UNR was (I think the constant lead was to blame). Can't wait for Saturday! See everyone there!

  5. Not to mention it being on a Holiday weekend a lot of students/ fans were traveling. Saturday should make up for it and then some...