Rebels take the bounce out of Ball State, 69-67

OAKLAND, Calif. -----If people thought cooler heads were prevailing at the end of the NCAA West Regional game between UNLV and Ball State, think again.

An angry scuffle broke out between players outside the locker room after the second ranked Rebels hung on to defeat the Cardinals 69-67 Friday night to advance to the final against Loyola Mary mount Sunday at 1:03 p.m.

After the Cardinals failed to get off a shot in the waning seconds, Moses Scurry taunted the Ball State players s the two teams exited the court, prompting Ball State Coach Dick Hunsaker to yell, “What’s this s---?” to the UNLV contingent. Coach Jerry Tarkanian was unaware of Hunsaker’s question. He apparently didn’t hear the angry Ball State coach.

Tarkanian and Larry Johnson remained behind on the Oakland Collesium Arena court to talk with CBS-TV and were no around when the scuffle broke out. No punches were thrown. The altercation ended quickly with Hunsaker in the middle of it.

He yelled to either a cameraman, or a reporter that, “They’re a bunch of thugs and you can quote me on that” while being escorted back into his locker room by security guards. Hunsaker later denied that remark by saying, “I never said that and anybody who quotes me on that is a liar.”

“They (UNLV) are an embarrassment to intercollegiate athletics. You saw what Scurry did, he was taunting us. There’s no place for that in college athletics. It breaks the spirit of what college sports is supposed to be about.”

Ball State’s Pars McCurdy was certainly involved in the on court talking, especially at the end when the Rebels failed to take advantage of an intentional foul by McCurdy on David Butler and three one-and-ones involving Greg Anthony (twice) and Stacey Augmon.

“All I know was we missed a bunch of free throws at the end,”Tarkanian said. “I told Greg to work hard all week on his free throw shooting because one of those could make the difference in a close game. We couldn’t make our free throws. It reminded me of the 1983 game with North Carolina State where we missed five one-and-ones and would up losing.”

UNLV led 68-59 with 2:08 left in the contest, but two desperation three-pointers by Chandler Thompson and Billy Butts put it to 68-65 with 1:09 left. With 35 seconds remaining, McCurdy fouled Butler. It was ruled an intentional one, which gave Butler two free throws and UNLV the ball.

McCurdy talked incessantly to Butler and to Johnson when the 6-10 center was stepping to the line. He missed the first, but made the second to give the Rebels a 69-65 lead. Anthony was then fouled and missed the first of two one-and-ones.

Thompson then skidded in with a layup to cut the UNLV lead to 69-67 with 19 seconds remaining. The Cardinals fouled Anthony gain and he promptly missed the free throw giving the Cardinals a second chance.

With 11 seconds left, they set up a play to McCurdy to try to drive around Johnson, but he slipped to the floor in what Tarkanian said was traveling. McCurdy managed to dish the ball off to Mike Spicer at the foul line.

He drove to the foul line, then lobbed a pass intended for Thompson that as pulled down by Butler to secure the win for UNLV. The Rebels will now play Loyola Marymount for the second time this season. UNLV won the first time 102-91.

None of the Rebels wanted to discuss the incident in the hallway, including Butler, Johnson and Augmon. Augmon said that tempers didn’t flare up on the court, despite all the talking. Johnson was not around didn’t see what happened.

“Nothing happened in the hallway,” Butler said. “I just think the other club as a little frustrated about the loss.”

Johnson and Augmon led the way for the Rebels with 20 points apiece Johnson had 13 rebounds, while Augmon yanked down nine. Once again, the Rebels were badly beaten on the boards (51-36).

Thompson led the Ball State attack with 21 points and nine rebounds.

McCurdy added 17 and 11, respectively, while Cutis Kidd had 11 points and 12 boards. He, too, was involved in the intimidation factor on the floor, and said after the game that the Rebels didn’t bother hem.

“Yeah, they were trying to intimidate us,” Kidd said. “When another team comes on the floor and sees Ball State on your jersey, they don’t even know where you’re located. So they were trying to talk about our school and our game.

“We were thinking that they may have UNLV on their shirts but that doesn’t mean anything. It got a little heated out there. I thought everything was all right going off the court. I guess it wasn’t.”

McCurdy said he wasn’t around when the scuffle broke out, but did offer a few comments about he constant remarks on the court.

“I go up to them at the line and say, ‘Hey, there’s pressure baby. Go on up to the line and shoot. Show me what you got,’” McCurdy said. “There was some craziness out there. But hey, we can back it up.”

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