In the span of two hours and 25 minutes, the Runnin’ Rebels’ 25-win season came to a screeching halt after losing to California, 64-61 in their opening game of the NCAA tournament.

But don’t let the three-point loss fool you; the Rebels should’ve lost by way more.

They deserved to lose this game.

The Golden Bears were a team that none of the “experts” gave any chance to win, yet here they stand.In this one, they were the team that wanted it more.

UNLV let the Golden Bears score the first seven points of the game, and a sense of déjà vu surrounded me as I thought to myself how similar this start was to last year’s when the Rebels let Colorado run them up and down the court.

And just like last season, UNLV’s comeback attempt fell short once again as the Rebels were sent packing after only one game.

There was no energy from the Rebels. No hustle. No sense of urgency. Their hands were on their hips after every timeout. They seemed to show no enthusiasm for the fact that they were playing for their tournament lives on the biggest stage of the season.

Even when they only trailed by six with eight minutes left, the Rebels showed no poise to win.

When you play like that, you don’t deserve to win.

For having the size advantage they did, UNLV’s interior defense got torched by the Golden Bears after giving up 34 points in the paint.

The Rebels were softer than a box full of kittens wrapped in Charmin toilet paper.

As for the locker room, well, that pretty much summed it up when the team sat in silence fighting back emotion as the players kept to themselves by drowning in the music of their Dre Beat headphones.

The disappointment could be felt throughout the entire HP Pavilion as the Rebels finished their season in nothing short of disappointing fashion.

Several factors contributed to UNLV’s loss to Cal. One could blame it on the “home court advantage” for Cal since San Jose is a stone’s throw from Berkeley, the home of the Golden Bears.

Blame it on the fact that UNLV only shot 32 percent from the floor, including an embarrassing 28 percent in the second half.

The blame could be put on the fact that despite four blocks in the first half, Khem Birch hardly played in the second half.

Or if we really wanted to, we could attribute the loss to UNLV missing nine of its 26 free throws, including the crucial ones missed in the final minute of the game.

The fact of the matter is that this loss cannot be pinned on just one mistake by the Rebels.

Because there were so many of them, it’s impossible to determine the main reason their season came to an abrupt end.

Instead of going up against a national powerhouse like Syracuse, the Runnin’ Rebels will enjoy spring break from the comfort of their own living rooms.

The expectations for UNLV before this season started were higher than the Beatles during the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Now, “first-round dud” seems like the more accurate assessment for UNLV as the team hasn’t gotten out of the first round of the NCAA tournament in four years.

It’s unfortunate that this is how the final Runnin’ Rebel Report of the year must go. But that’s the reality of it.

Until next season…let’s run.