San Diego State led 68-53 with five minutes remaining, but the Rebels turned up the defensive intensity and forced five straight Aztec turnovers. Meanwhile, Banks connected on a three pointer and two field goals while Dalron Johnson hit a couple of free throws to put the Rebels in striking distance at 68-62.
Banks later converted a three point play with a minute left to cut into the Aztec lead at 74-71, but Tony Bland hit one of two free throws to make it a two possession game. Lou Kelly hit a short jumper in the lane to bring the Rebels within two points with 30 seconds remaining.
Al Faux hit one of two free throws to put the Aztecs up by three points with 26 seconds left.
On the Rebels next possession, Marcus Banks was bumped by tournament MVP Randy Holcomb on the perimeter and turned it over. The Aztecs played keep away from UNLV, but they threw the ball out of bounds with six seconds left.
San Diego wisely fouled Banks before he could launch a three pointer with 4.8 seconds left. Banks connected on both free throws to cut the Aztec lead to 76-75. DeAndre Moore hit both free throws for San Diego State with 3.3 seconds left.
After a timeout, the Rebels inbounded the ball to Lou Kelly who took it down the right side of the court and launched a desperation three pointer just tenths of a second before the clock expired. His shot was on target but a little too long as it hit the back of the rim.
UNLV started the game sluggishly by going without a field goal for greater than eight minutes over the first half. San Diego State outscored the Rebels 17-1 during that stretch an 8-6 deficit into a 23-9 advantage. The Rebels only shot 30% from the floor and converted only half of their 14 free throw attempts in the first half. The Aztecs led 40-28 at the break.
Tournament MVP Randy Holcomb led the Aztecs with 20 points on 9-12 shooting and 12 rebounds.
The Rebels were led by Lou Kelly's 24 points and Dalron Johnson's 23 points
and 8 rebounds. Marcus Banks added 18 points. The three combined for 65 of UNLV's
75 points, but none of them shot greater than 50% from the floor.
UNLV hosts Arizona State in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night at 8pm on ESPN 2.