For much of the past two seasons, the Varsity Blues appeared to be on the verge of an ascension up the CIS/OUA rankings after numerous competitive games against the top competition in the country. Unfortunately, the inability to close out games when the lead is in hand late has plagued John Campbell‘s group – Blues also were unable to close out the game in last weekend’s last second loss to Charleston Southern.
After this afternoon’s character-building come-from-behind victory over a top NCAA Division 1 team, consider the tide turning or even turned around. In what could be considered a program-lifting victory, the Blues began their two-game tour of the Bahamas getting three clutch free throws from star 6’5″ wing forward Devin Johnson with just 0.5 seconds remaining to defeat one of the better teams in NCAA Division 1 over the years, UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 80-79.
Even more impressive was the manner in which the Blues were able to rally late, trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter. Blues coach Campbell was impressed with his team’s resilience and was especially pleased with the play of 6’4″ veteran wing Manny Sahota and 6’3″ D2 transfer Reilly Reid, who brings a maturity and confidence to the Blues back court. Rebels did help Varsity’s cause, missing 4 free throws in the final 16 seconds and their final 5 overall.
Johnson again led the Blues offensively, finishing with 20 points and 7 rebounds while Reid showed his presence in the lineup will be impactful with 14. Sahota, who is just now rounding into the higher-end player that many thought the Blues were getting after he transferred home from NCAA D1 Cornell added 17 points and 7 assists while steady and emerging 6’3″ point guard Sage Usher flirted with his first career double-double with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The Blues trailed 42-40 at half.
Both Canadians on the UNLV roster got time for the Rebels with 6’4″ Jalen Poyser finishing with 10 points while 6’7″ Tyrell Bellot-Green added 7 off the bench for UNLV.
The Blues complete their two game tour on Tuesday morning at 10:00 AM ET against another perennial top program, Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the ACC.