BERKELEY — A dejected Allen Crabbe sat in front of the room and tried to explain how the Cal men’s basketball team let a golden opportunity slip away against UNLV in the final seconds.
“It was a perfect day to show what we can do,” he said softly, “and it came down to one play. We just made a defensive play … we were right there.”
Instead, Quintrell Thomas grabbed Anthony Marshall’s airball under the basket and scored on a short hook shot with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift No. 21 UNLV to a 76-75 win over Cal on Sunday.
“Defensively we got what we wanted,” Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery said. “We got an airball, in fact. Either we fell asleep or we were mismatched.”
Cal junior forward Richard Solomon, who matched his season high with 14 points in addition to his team-leading eight rebounds, took the blame for the miscue. The Runnin’ Rebels (7-1) grabbed 13 offensive boards and outrebounded the Bears 38-30.
“I should have went out and got that rebound,” he said. “I was boxing out, but rebounding is a mindset. We have to be more physical on the defensive end.”
Cal (6-2) has lost two straight. The Bears were trying to beat a Top 25 team at home for the first time in more than three years.
“One of our Achilles heels is giving up offensive rebounds,” Montgomery said. “We’re not reacting all the time.”
The Runnin’ Rebels led for most of the second half but trailed 75-74 following two free throws by Cal’s Justin Cobbs with 11.9 seconds left. Marshall then rushed a long jumper that Thomas alertly grabbed and flipped in.
Thomas was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. Justin Hawkins then blocked a 3-point attempt by Cobbs from midcourt as the buzzer sounded.
Anthony Bennett had season highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds and led UNLV to its sixth straight win. Bryce Dejean-Jones also had a career-best 22 points.