LAHAINA, Maui >> UNLV found out it can handle some adversity.
The Runnin’ Rebels lost to UCLA in a close game in the opening round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. They had to come back and play Chaminade, the Division II host school, in the consolation round. After 25 minutes of trailing and staying close they pulled away for a 93-73 victory Tuesday.
“Our team was really down after last night. I think that’s probably human nature,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “You come here as a group, as a team, trying to find out your identity, trying to see who in your program has toughness, who can bounce back?”
Derrick Jones Jr. and Patrick McCaw stepped up big time in the second half for UNLV.
Jones had 26 points and 10 rebounds and McCaw added 25 points for the Runnin’ Rebels (4-1), who will face No. 13 Indiana, which beat St. John’s 83-73, for fifth place on Wednesday.
“We took a tough loss. Coach Rice ensured that we’d come prepared for Chaminade,” McCaw said. “I know we came out a little slow. We had to fight through the aches and pains. But in the second half, Coach was just preaching we’ve got to bring energy and effort in the second half and play Runnin’ Rebel basketball, and that’s what we did.”
Jones scored 10 points in a 14-2 run that gave UNLV a 54-43 lead with 12:43 to play. The Silverswords had one more run in them and they got within 59-54 on a 3-pointer by Kevin Hu with 10:24 left. But McCaw hit a 3 and Jones scored on a drive and the rout was on.
“I thought we played well through about 34 minutes of the game,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “We had a bad 6-minute stretch there in the middle of the second half with a bunch of turnovers in a row, it led to easy baskets by them that was the difference in the game. For the most part, I thought we played right with them for about 34 minutes.”
UNLV was coming off a 77-75 loss to UCLA in the first round while the Silverswords lost 123-72 to No. 5 Kansas in the opening round, their worst loss ever in the tournament.
Rohndell Goodwin had 18 points for the Silverswords (0-4), who shot 10 of 19 from 3-point range (52.6 percent) but they just couldn’t handle the Runnin’ Rebels inside where they outscored Chaminade 64-26.
“The coaches know what we can do and they know what we’re capable of,” Jones said. “They just wanted us to go out and play a lot harder. They knew we weren’t playing at our full potential, so they just wanted us to go out and play a lot harder.”
UNLV: Freshman center Stephen Zimmerman Jr., who had 10 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to UCLA, sat out the game. Zimmerman said he was sick and didn’t feel well for the UCLA game. He spent this one on the bench in a sweatsuit with a towel wrapped around his neck. … UNLV won the previous two games with Chaminade, the last in the seventh-place game in the 2000 Maui Invitational.
Chaminade: Reserve guard Dantley Walker played at UNLV for two seasons that were separated by a redshirt year and an LDS mission. He was 0 for 4 from the field and didn’t score against his former team. “I think we came into the game knowing we had to play well to win,” Walker said. “But we were pretty confident that we had a chance to come out and win in the second half.” … The Silverswords’ last win in the tournament was over Texas in 2012 and their record in the tournament is now 7-85.
UNLV: No. 13 Indiana in the fifth-place game of the Maui Invitational on Wednesday.
Chaminade: St. John’s in the seventh-place game of the Maui Invitational on Wednesday.