Rebels comeback comes up short, 79-76

UNLV (2-1) found itself in another nail-biter on Friday night against UC Santa Barbara (3-0) at the Thomas & Mack Center. But unlike earlier wins over Hawaii and Eastern Washington, the Runnin' Rebels came up short at the wire this time around, 79-76.

UNLV trailed the Gauchos by 14 points, 72-58, with 5:47 to go but behind the play of senior guard Wendell White (24 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals) used a 11-0 run to close within one point, 73-72, with 1:22 to go.

White was intentionally fouled by UCSB all-Big West forward Chris Devine (25 points, 6 rebounds) after a steal and made one of two free throws to make it 73-72. The Rebels then had a chance to take the lead on the ensuing possession but true freshman point guard Marcus Lawrence didn't come close on a wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner.

The teams traded free throws down the stretch with the Gauchos taking a three-point lead, 77-74, on a pair of James Powell foul shots with 15.5 seconds left. UNLV guard Wink Adams then drove the length of the floor to cut the deficit to one again, 77-76, with nine seconds left before Powell converted two more free throws with 7.3 seconds remaining.

The Runnin' Rebels, who played without starting point guard Kevin Kruger (sprained ankle) for the second straight game, then had a chance to send the game into overtime but Curtis Terry air-balled a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Michael Umeh added 22 points for the Rebels including six of 10 3-pointers while Adams finished with 13 points on just 4 of 14 shooting.

"Obviously, we're disappointed in the result," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "I thought for 35 or 36 minutes UCSB just flat outplayed us in every aspect of the game. …. Then obviously in the last three or four minutes things turned and we made a heck of a run but we were in a position that we can't afford to let ourselves be in."

"They did a lot of things that they wanted to do out there and that's something that we can't let happen," Umeh said. "We can't let a team come on our home court and be comfortable. We let them get off to a great start and we really didn't have much going offensively in the first half.

"I think we'll grow from this. It makes us know that we really have to come out and practice hard and key on what a team is going to do."

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