Stevens: Key Turnovers Hurt Lobos in 63-62 loss To UNLV Rebels
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/22/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 22, 2011

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Complete Media Book: UNLV 63, New Mexico 62 Get Acrobat Reader

Lobo Men's Basketball - On The Mountain West Road
UNLV 63, Lobos 62
Wednesday: 8 p.m., TCU at Lobos - The Pit
Saturday: 2 p.m., Brigham Young at Lobos - The Pit

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It was an ending in which both teams did enough things to win and lose - and win and lose again. In the very end, Lobo Kendall Williams made an unbelievable steal on an UNLV in-bounds pass, was fouled with 1.1 seconds to play and had a chance to make two free throws to force this see-saw game into an extra period.

The Lobo freshman made the first and bounced his second shot off the back of the rim as the Rebels escaped with a 63-62 Mountain West Conference win Saturday afternoon in the Las Vegas Thomas & Mack Center.

The ending spoiled a Lobo rally in the closing minutes that pulled them out of a 56-50 hole and holding the ball and a 61-60 lead with 38 seconds to play.

Then Lady Luck swooped into the Thomas & Mack and touched the Rebels with her magic wand. UNM's Phillip McDonald flipped a pass back at a moving Dairese Gary, but the ball ended up in UNLV's Tre'Von Willis' hands.

"We throw the ball right to them," said Lobo coach Steve Alford. "We were not the team that made the fewer mistakes."

Willis raced toward the unguarded basket with Gary in quick pursuit. Gary reached around the Rebel and flicked his left hand at the ball. A ref called the foul intentional.

That put Willis at the line with 27.2 seconds to play, looking at two shots. UNLV also had ball possession after the shots. Willis made both shots and UNLV went up 62-61. UNM was forced to foul Oscar Bellfield with 18.2 seconds. The big Reb missed the first, made the second. UNM was down 63-61.

The Rebs came out in a press. The Lobos broke the pressure and Williams drove hard at the basket as McDonald broke for the hoop on the other side. Williams bulleted a pass at his teammate and the ball went out of bounds.

All the Rebs had to do was get the ball inbounds with 2.7 seconds to play. Sounds simple enough, but Williams timed the in-bounds pass perfectly, snatched it out of the air, got off a decent shot that missed, but was fouled with 1.1 ticks to go. He ended the day 7-of-8 from the line and UNM ended the day 13-7 overall and 1-4 in the MWC race.

"We were in the game the whole way," said Alford. "It was about battling and I thought our guys battled hard. We have to find a way to get that effort consistently.

"There were a lot of mistakes in the last min of the game when we had a good chance of winning it."

The Lobos ended up with 20 turnovers and had four in the final 1:15. UNM shot a solid 48 percent from the floor and Vegas shot 46.8 percent, after shooting 61 percent in the first half. The Lobos had five players in double figures: Gary (15), Williams (11), Tony Snell (10), Drew Gordon (10), and McDonald (10). Gordon was tough inside with 13 boards.

UNLV got 20 points from Chace Stanback and 13 from Bellfield. The Rebs went 6-of-13 from the 3-point line, but made only one in the second half. UNM went 3-of-12 with Snell going 2-3 from behind the line.

"In the second half, we really guarded," said Alford. "We did a lot of the things we wanted to do. We just couldn't make the plays down the stretch. We're really close to being 2-1 on the (MWC) road. Instead, we are 0-3."

The Lobos return to The Pit at 8 p.m. Wednesday to play TCU. The No. 9-ranked Brigham Young Cougars and Jimmer Fredette come to The Pit on Saturday.

Second Half: Lobos 32, UNLV 29

The Rebs came out and expanded their 34-30 halftime lead to 37-30, using the free-throw line. The Lobos then rolled out seven straight points, the final two a dunk by Gordon on a follow. At the 15:15 media break, the teams were knotted at 37-all.

At the 11:10 break, UNM used a Williams drive to take a 44-42 lead into the break. UNLV threw out a quick 7-0 run ended by a Willis trey forming a 49-44 Rebel lead. Alford called time. At the 7:18 break, UNLV was up 51-47. UNM's three points came on a Gary drive plus a Gary free throw.

A.J. Hardeman fires jumper

Gary muscled in another layup and added another foul shot: 51-50. Vegas then got back-to-back buckets inside from Lopez. He got his second one burning Gordon on a head fake and scoring on a drive. Lopez also got fouled and added a free shot: 56-50. At a 3:35 break, UNM was down 56-52.

Gary hit two free throws to cut the Rebs' lead to 56-54. Williams came up with a steal and ended up at the line. He hit both free ones at 3:10 to tie the game 56-all.

The Rebs forced a long trey and Williams got fouled on another drive. Williams made two and UNM was up 58-56 with 2:35 to play. Bellfield went to the line at 2:23 off a Williams' foul and the Reb tied the game at 58-all.

The Lobos worked the ball well on offense and Tony Snell got a wide open trey on the baseline. He hit it and UNM was up 61-58. UNLV got an open layup at the other end and missed. Gary turned it over and Stanback hit an 18-footer to pull the Rebs to within a point at 61-60.

The Lobos had the ball coming out of a break at 1:04. The score was still 61-60. UNLV forced a turnover, but Willis threw it away at the other end with 38 seconds to go. That led to the dramatic ending that led to UNLV's one-point win.

First Half: UNLV 34, Lobos 30
Lobo Stat Leaders:
Gordon 8 pts., 6 rebs.; McDonald 6 pts.

The Rebs banged in five treys in the first half and Chace Stanback hurt the Lobos with 16 points as UNLV grabbed a four-point halftime lead. The Rebs shot 61 percent from the floor while the Lobos weren't bad at 48 percent. However, UNM was 1-of-5 from long range.

Coach Alford didn't like UNM's early 5-0 hole and called a quick timeout. "We had that deer-in-the-headlights look again," said Alford. "We needed to settle the guys down and we saw the tempo going their way."

The Lobos came out of the huddle and Williams penetrated through the UNLV press and fed Gordon for a dunk. UNM was down 5-2. UNLV lost the ball at the top of the key and Gordon picked up the loose change and ran down the court for another dunk: 7-4. Reb Stanback hit a trey for UNLV. McDonald countered with a Lobo trey and it was 10-7 going into the first media break.

The Lobos came out of the break and threw out an 8-0 run. At the 11:41 break, UNM held a 15-12 lead. At the next media break, it was 17-16 in UNM's favor. The Rebs then had a nice stretch. Oscar Bellfield scored three consecutive Reb baskets, Stanback hit another jumper and Willis scored a layup out of transition off a Hardeman turnover. UNLV was up 28-19. At the next media break, the Rebs were up 30-23.

Bellfield continued to get open and hurt the Lobos. He tossed in a trey from the right wing and UNLV had its biggest lead of the game at 33-23. The Lobos did a good job cutting the Vegas lead to 34-30 at the half.