Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 | 10:45 p.m.
- UNLV’s Chace Stanback overcomes poor shooting to make game-winning steal
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 65, Air Force 63
- Blog: Mike Moser’s 27 points, key stop from Chace Stanback gives UNLV 65-63 OT victory
- Brice Massamba’s interior play may be crucial for UNLV against Air Force
- UNLV’s Mike Moser shakes off illness to carry Rebels to OT victory at Boise State
- UNLV notes: Carlos Lopez will be reevaluated for a sprained ankle
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The venue may have changed, but the script to Saturday’s 65-63 victory at Air Force was nearly identical to the Rebels’ 77-72 overtime victory at Boise State on Wednesday.
UNLV (20-3, 4-1) got out to a fast start, then fell behind as its offense cooled off and the home crowd grew rowdy. Once again the Rebels needed a stop at the end of regulation to avoid the upset, and then statistically dominated the extra period.
This one was closer, but just like in Boise, the Rebels found a way to win, and now they’re tied with San Diego State atop the Mountain West.
“It felt like déjà vu this week,” said Chace Stanback, who made the steal that sealed UNLV’s victory. “Ultimately, we dug in, we fought and we found a way to win the game.”
On UNLV’s final possession of regulation, with the game tied at 57, the Rebels gave the ball to Moser, who finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds. But he lost control before getting up a shot and the Falcons (11-8, 1-4) gained possession on a jump ball.
So, just like Wednesday’s game, UNLV had to make a stop to stay alive.
Air Force’s Michael Lyons, who finished with a team-high 25 points, drove to the right side of the basket on UNLV’s Anthony Marshall. In the first half, the contact that occurred on the shot attempt probably would have been enough for a foul, but at the end of the game the refs let the players decide it.
Once it got to the extra session, UNLV, which is now 3-0 in overtime, refused to lose.
“Our guys expect to win and they just have something in them that they make big plays and do it collectively,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “Couldn’t be prouder of our toughness down the stretch.”
A couple minutes into overtime, Moser gave UNLV a three-point lead with a dunk so ferocious it knocked the stuffing out of his nose, which he had had since taking a glancing elbow earlier in the game.
Lyons tied it back up with a 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim and in, but that would be the Falcons’ only field-goal attempt of overtime. UNLV forced six turnovers during the five-minute period.
“When it comes to overtime, it’s like do-or-die to us,” Moser said. “We want to get it done right then and there, don’t want to waste any more time. … (Bellfield) really put us over the top at the end there.”
On the next possession, Bellfield drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing early in the shot clock, putting UNLV back up by three. He finished with 15 points and seven assists and only added to his reputation as a big-time shooter.
“Oscar had a very good week,” Rice said. “His leadership is so important. We have so much confidence in him and he continued to step up and make big plays.”
From that point, the Rebels had a chance to ice the game, but missed layups by Marshall and Stanback and Moser’s three misses at the free-throw line kept the Falcons alive.
With seven seconds left, they ran a play that was designed to give Kamryn Williams a look at a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but Stanback stepped in the way and ran toward the Rebel bench with the ball and victory in hand.
Once again, the Rebels made plays when they needed them most.
“It’s frustrating being in these situations, especially back-to-back,” Moser said, “but it’s going to make us better down the road just learning how to finish out close games.”
Moser, who said he still felt terrible as he battles the flu, now has four consecutive double-doubles and 12 for the season. Marshall finished with eight points, four assists and three steals, and Justin Hawkins had six rebounds and scored six points, all in the second half.
Marshall, Hawkins and Kendall Wallace each hit crucial 3-pointers in the second half. Those shots could have been padding to a comfortable lead were it not for an uncharacteristic nine first-half turnovers.
“The turnovers were concerning in the first half, especially when we shot 56 percent,” Rice said. “That’s nine possessions we didn’t get and that’s another 8-10 points.”
UNLV jumped out to a 20-10 lead and led by as much as 11 points in the first half. As that lead dwindled away, the Rebels became visibly frustrated. They are familiar with poor shooting, but they don’t usually shoot themselves in the foot.
That was new, but the poor 3-point shooting — 3-for-15 in the second half — is the same thing the Rebels are used dealing with on the road.
“It’s just a learning experience,” Bellfield said. “You would have thought after Boise we would learn, but I guess there’s still more learning that we need to do.”
No doubt that Rice would agree. But considering the travel schedule this week and the target on their back, he’s happy going back to Las Vegas with a victory.
“I’m not going to micro-manage every single possession,” Rice said. “The bottom line is we found a way to win.”