Free Throws Win it For UNLV Over New Mexico, 78-73
The sixth and seventh place teams went toe-to-to, but it was the Rebels that saw free throws falling late.
UNLV completed a sweep of New Mexico.
A balanced UNLV attack saw the Runnin’ Rebels overcome New Mexico late in the second half behind steady free throw shooting. Two Rebels (Bryce Hamilton and Elijah Mitrou-Long) scored 17, and another pair of Rebels (Amauri Hardy and Marvin Coleman) finished with 16. The four players accounted for 66 of UNLV’s 78 points.
Unlike the last contest (a blowout win in favor of UNLV), the two teams went toe-to-toe for the duration of the game. In the first half it was New Mexico that came out ahead, largely because of free-throw shooting.
With just 46 seconds remaining, the score was 74-73 and Amauri Hardy missed a short jumper, leaving 27 seconds on the clock. But New Mexico, which took care of the ball reasonably well, turned the ball over with just 18 second left.
An called timeout, an exchange of words between Mitrou-Long and New Mexico’s Zane Martin and a double technical later, the ball stayed in UNLV’s possesion and a subsequent foul with 12 seconds left put Hardy at the line, where he sunk two free throws. A missed three for New Mexico, and the game was all but over.
Both teams were shooting well from three early, but New Mexico couldn’t sink free throws consistently late, going just 5-11 in the last 4:27.
Conversely UNLV hit four of its last six free throws to close out the game, virtually cancelling out the free throws New Mexico made in the closing minutes of the game.
The win maintains conference positioning for both teams, but gives UNLV a greater chance at finishing in a top five position (thereby avoiding a play-in game in the conference tournament) as only 1 game separates sixth place from second place.
UNLV will host one of the 4 teams currently tied for second place in Colorado State, giving the Rebels an opportunity to rise back up the conference standings.
New Mexico will host Nevada in Steve Alford and Craig Neal’s first return to The Pit since leaving the program. Both games are on Tuesday.