Rebels Hang On…Barely
UNLV defeated New Mexico 63-62 on Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center after Lobos guard Kendall Williams missed a potential game-tying free throw in the closing seconds.
Williams went to the line with 1.1 seconds left and a chance to tie for New Mexico, after the Lobos stole away the Rebels’ inbounds pass two-seconds earlier. After hitting the first free throw to pull New Mexico to within one, Williams’ second attempt rimmed out and UNLV grabbed the rebound as time expired. It was Williams’ only miss in eight attempts from the line for the game.
The Rebels (15-5, 3-3 Mountain West Conference) led by as many as 10 in the first half behind the red-hot shooting of Chace Stanback, who scored 16 points before intermission. UNLV shot 60% in the first half and held a 34-30 lead at halftime. But the Lobos (13-7, 1-4) chipped away in the second half as Stanback got fewer shot attempts. New Mexico regained the lead at 61-58 on a three-pointer with less than two minutes to play, but that would be the final field goal for the Lobos, as UNLV pulled to within one on a Stanback jumper. Then, following a UNLV steal, Tre’Von Willis was fouled on a clear-path fastbreak and made both free throws to give the Rebels a 62-61 lead. Following another New Mexico turnover, UNLV’s Oscar Bellfield was fouled and made one-of-two free throws to put the Rebels up two. It appeared as though the Rebels would hold on for the win after they forced New Mexico to throw the ball out of bounds on the next possession. But the Lobos’ steal of UNLV’s inbounds pass set up the final sequence.
Stanback led UNLV with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Willis returned to action after missing the last two games with a sore knee. Willis finished with nine points in 25 minutes off the bench. New Mexico won the rebounding battle 33-22, but UNLV made up for that by forcing 20 turnovers, including 11 steals.
Next up, the Rebels play at Wyoming on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.